We have discussed a disease called pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) in previous articles. This is a disease which can be idiopathic (no known cause), but can also be associated with other diseases and exposures. The disease causes an elevation in the pressure in the blood vessels of the lungs, and leads ultimately, to heart failure and death if not treated.
It has been known for some time that exposure to drugs used to curb appetite for weight loss purposes are associated with causing this disease. These drugs are basically derivatives of amphetamine. We refer to this type of problem as APAH or associated pulmonary arterial hypertension.
The concern over the drug epidemic in the U.S. has focused on opioids, both legal and illegal. However, there is another drug which is part of the epidemic. We do not hear as much about it on the East coast because the epicenter currently appears to be in California and West coast areas, but it is moving into the Midwest and I am sure that we will see it in our neighborhoods soon. The drug I am referring to is methamphetamine. This drug has now been shown to cause significant PAH in a percentage of its users.
Some of the important things to know about this acquired form of PAH (APAH) is that the cardiac effects it causes are more severe. The reason for this is still not fully understood. What is understood is that addiction to this drug is a death sentence.