In Quebec, the sometimes excessive use of amphetamines is a cause for concern. This can lead to intoxication, with serious consequences for the body, particularly the heart. As experts in TEE probe repair, our laboratory is passing on the warning issued on this subject by Mario Sénéchal, Director of the Heart Failure and Cardiac Transplant Program at the Quebec University Institute of Cardiology and Pneumology (IUCPQ).
The cardiologist is sounding the alarm and calling for collective awareness. “It is a social problem, a public health problem. I think the message has to be sent to people who use, to people who can advise, to doctors who make the diagnosis, so that they think about it more quickly, but also to the legislator so that there is complete care for these patients. The healthcare network must help these patients”.
A rapid evolution
Dr Mario Sénéchal is aware that the situation is changing rapidly. “Five or ten years ago, we didn’t think about it because it was much less common. Now it has become a reflex. If you have a patient under the age of 45 who doesn’t have a coronary, valvular or familial cause, you quickly raise the possibility of drug use, including amphetamines”.
More and more frequent
The IUCPQ sees at least one case of amphetamine-induced heart failure each week. This specific type of patient now represents 10% of the total number of patients with cardiac insufficiency. For Mario Sénéchal, “this is a scourge! Worse still, as he points out, “it affects a very young population”. Thirty-somethings!
Mr and Mrs Nobody
The effects and consequences of heavy amphetamine use in the short and long term are well known. But what about motivation? According to Dr Sénéchal, everyone is a user. “A quarter of patients do it for performance reasons, like students, business people, people with a fast pace of work. The other quarter are people who have experienced a difficult event, such as job loss or bereavement. For others, it is a way of life.
Taking amphetamines is all the easier when the cost of the drug is low. “20 tablets for 8 dollars,” says Mario Sénéchal.
A vital prognosis
Amphetamine-induced cardiac insufficiency is a real life-threatening condition. If stopping amphetamines and treatment is enough to find a heart in good condition, “recovery can take several months, even years”, reports Radio-Canada. However, in the case of terminal heart failure, the implantation of a mechanical heart becomes mandatory. Moreover, Dr. Sénéchal points out that “without this last resort, they would all have died”.