The Cardiac Complications of Methamphetamines

Heart Lung Circ. 2016 Apr;25(4):325-32. doi: 10.1016/j.hlc.2015.10.019. Epub 2015 Nov 28.


Methamphetamines are increasingly popular drugs of abuse in Australia, and are rising in purity. The rising popularity and purity of methamphetamines has notably increased demands upon Australian medical services. Methamphetamines are sympathomimetic amines with a range of adverse effects upon multiple organ systems. Cardiovascular complications are the second leading cause of death in methamphetamine abusers, and there appears to be a high prevalence of cardiac pathology. Cardiovascular pathology frequently seen in methamphetamine abusers includes hypertension, aortic dissection, acute coronary syndromes, pulmonary arterial hypertension and methamphetamine-associated cardiomyopathy. The rising prevalence of methamphetamine abuse is likely to increase the burden of cardiovascular pathology in Australians. A National Parliamentary Enquiry was opened in March 2015 to address concerns regarding the medical and social impacts of methamphetamine abuse. From April 2015, a National 'Ice Taskforce' was also created in parallel. Reversal of cardiac pathology appears to be achievable with abstinence from methamphetamines and initiation of appropriate treatment. It is key to appreciate that the pathogenesis of methamphetamine-induced cardiac complications arises as a result of the specific toxic effects of methamphetamines. Clinical management is hence individualised; suggested management approaches for methamphetamine-induced cardiac complications are detailed within this article.

Keywords: Cardiomyopathy; Hypertension; Methamphetamines; Pulmonary hypertension; Toxicology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Coronary Syndrome / chemically induced*
  • Acute Coronary Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Acute Coronary Syndrome / therapy
  • Advisory Committees
  • Animals
  • Aortic Rupture / chemically induced*
  • Aortic Rupture / epidemiology
  • Aortic Rupture / therapy
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Cardiomyopathies / chemically induced*
  • Cardiomyopathies / epidemiology
  • Cardiomyopathies / therapy
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / chemically induced
  • Hypertension / epidemiology
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / chemically induced
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / epidemiology
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / therapy
  • Methamphetamine / adverse effects*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / complications*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy


  • Methamphetamine