HealthDay News — Methamphetamines, cocaine, opiates, and cannabis exposure are associated with an increased risk for incident atrial fibrillation (AF), according to a study published online in the European Heart Journal.

Anthony L. Lin, MD, from the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues performed a longitudinal analysis of adults who received care in an emergency department, outpatient surgery facility, or hospital from January 1, 2005, to December 31, 2015, to examine the potential effects of methamphetamine, cocaine, opiate, and cannabis exposure on incident AF. Data were included for 23,561,884 patients, of whom 98,271 used methamphetamine, 48,701 used cocaine, 10,032 used opiates, and 132,834 used cannabis.

During the study period, 4.2% of the total population developed incident AF. The researchers found that methamphetamine, cocaine, opiate, and cannabis use were each associated with an increased incidence of AF after adjustment for potential confounders and mediators (hazard ratios, 1.86, 1.61, 1.74, and 1.35, respectively). In the same cohort, negative control analyses did not exhibit similarly consistent positive relationships.


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“The proarrhythmogenic risks of methamphetamine, cocaine, opiates, and cannabis warrant continued discussion in the medical and scientific communities, and further exploration is required to better elucidate the causal links between these substances and the arrhythmias observed. In the meantime, our work supports the continued medical and community efforts aimed at reducing substance abuse,” the authors write.

Two authors disclosed ties to the medical device and pharmaceutical industries.

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