Recreational drinking, smoking and drug use is linked to premature heart disease in young people, particularly among younger women, a new study suggests.
The study, published in the journal Heart, suggests that those who regularly use 4 or more substances are 9 times as likely to be affected.
“The growing body of research on these issues suggests the need for a nationwide education campaign on the potential long-term damage being done to the cardiovascular system in patients with substance use disorders,” said researcher Anthony Wayne Orr from Louisiana State University.
The researcher pointed out that use of cocaine and methamphetamine have been associated with faster cell ageing and neurocognitive decline, with higher than average loss of grey matter.
For the study, the team included 135,703 people with premature heart disease and 7,716 with extremely premature heart disease. They were compared with 111,245 people who did not have premature heart disease.
The team explored whether the recreational use of tobacco, cannabis, alcohol and illicit drugs, such as amphetamine and cocaine, might be linked to prematurely and extremely prematurely furred up arteries.
Recreational use of any substance was independently associated with a higher likelihood of premature and extremely premature heart disease, the team found.
After accounting for potentially influential factors, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol, those who smoked tobacco were nearly twice as likely to have premature heart disease while those who drank recreationally were 50 per cent more likely to do so.
Cocaine users were almost 2.5 times as likely to have premature heart disease, while those who used amphetamines were nearly 3 times as likely to do so.
Cannabis users were more than 2.5 times as likely to have premature heart disease while those using other drugs were around 2.5 times as likely to do so.
The higher the number of substances used recreationally, the greater was the risk of premature heart disease, ranging from a doubling in risk with the use of 1 substance to a 9-fold heightened risk for those using 4 or more, the team said.