Methamphetamine Adverse Effects

Overview: Methamphetamine (meth) increases synaptic levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin (5-HT) and norepinephrine, and has alpha and beta adrenergic agonist effects. Norepinephrine is responsible for methamphetamine’s alerting, anorectic, locomotor and sympathomimetic effects; dopamine stimulates locomotor effects, psychosis, and perception disturbances; and serotonin is responsible for delusions and psychosis.


Adverse clinical cardiovascular manifestations of meth include: chest pain, palpitations, shortness of breath, hypertension or hypotension, myocardial ischemia, atrial and ventricular dysrhythmias, and circulatory collapse. Animal studies have shown that meth has both positive and negative cardiac inotropic effects and is directly toxic to the myocardium. In addition to acute MI in humans, meth has been reported to cause cardiomyopathy, acute pulmonary edema, and pulmonary hypertension.


Although most manifestations of meth use are cardiovascular some pulmonary complications occur. According to Cruz, Davis, O'Neil and Tamarin (1998), dyspnea with shallow respirations may be noted within seconds of smoking “ice”. Absence of bronchoconstriction and wheezing may be due to the bronchodilating effect of meth.


Central Nervous System:

Most patients report to the Emergency room due to CNS symptoms. These patients are anxious, volatile, and aggressive and in some cases psychotic.

Other Physical/Mental Effects:

Instant Feedback:

Methamphetamine manufacture can result in lead poisoning .

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