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Lifestyle activities such as consistent drug and alcohol use are known to cause various health problems and the findings of a recent scientific study back those claims. The study whose findings were published in the Heart journal revealed that young people, especially women are at a higher risk of heart disease when they constantly engage in recreational smoking, drinking and drug abuse.

Heart disease cases have been on the rise in the last few years especially in young adults. However, there was previously no data that could link the increased heart disease cases to higher prevalence of recreational drug and substance use. Scientists conducted the research to determine whether recreational use of illicit drugs, cannabis, tobacco and alcohol have some negative impact on the heart.

Premature heart disease and the study findings

It is considered premature heart disease if it occurs in men younger than 55 years old and women younger than 65 years old. Individuals who suffer from the condition before the age of 40 are said to experience extreme premature heart disease. The researchers studied data from the Veterans with premaTure AtheroscLerosis (VITAL) registry and Veterans Affairs Healthcare database from 2014 and 2015. The researchers also analysed the potential implications of recreational substances one by one.

According to the research findings, tobacco smokers were more likely to suffer from premature heart disease by a factor of two compared to their counterparts who engage in recreational drinking. Cocaine users were 2.5 times more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease and similar statistics were observed for those who consume cannabis and other drugs. Amphetamine users were three times likely to suffer from heart disease.

The research findings also indicate that consuming multiple recreational products regularly heightens the risk of cardiovascular disease. For example, those who regularly consume four or more types of recreational drugs were up to 9 times likely to suffer from heart disease. The data shows that women who regularly use recreational products are at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease than their male counterparts.

Researchers involved in the study noted that there might be other factors not observed in the study that might contribute to higher risk. Nevertheless, the findings point to substance abuse as a notable contributor to heart disease, thus the need for young adults to exercise more caution.