The Emerging Epidemic of Methamphetamine-Induced Aortic Dissections

J Card Surg. Sep-Oct 2007;22(5):390-3. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-8191.2007.00432.x.


The clinical presentation, treatment, and outcomes of six consecutive patients presenting with acute aortic dissection secondary to hypertensive crises from methamphetamine use is described. Data were obtained prospectively from the expanded STS clinical database of the division of cardiothoracic surgery at the University of Washington, but reviewed in a retrospective fashion. These patients represent 5.5% of all patients diagnosed and treated for aortic dissection in the same time period (6/109) and 20% of all patients with aortic dissection under the age of 50 years (6/30). We conclude that young patients (<age 50 years old) presenting with acute aortic dissections should be routinely tested for methamphetamine. Positive urine tests should be confirmed with chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Beta and alpha blockers should be used instead of the more typical beta blockade alone. We recommend the addition and documentation of intense, long-term drug rehabilitation program along with routine periodic clinical and radiographic follow-up to prevent secondary aneurysmal dilation of remaining pathological aorta.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adrenergic alpha-Antagonists
  • Adult
  • Aneurysm, Dissecting / chemically induced
  • Aneurysm, Dissecting / diagnosis
  • Aneurysm, Dissecting / etiology*
  • Aorta / pathology*
  • Aorta, Abdominal / pathology*
  • Aortic Aneurysm, Abdominal / chemically induced
  • Aortic Aneurysm, Abdominal / diagnosis
  • Aortic Aneurysm, Abdominal / etiology*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methamphetamine / adverse effects*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Washington


  • Adrenergic alpha-Antagonists
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Methamphetamine