Herbal amphetamine increases risk of death and stroke in those with heart disease

December 12, 2011

Chewing the natural stimulant khat increases the risk of death and stroke in patients with heart disease compared to those who are not users, according to new research in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Since ancient times, people in the Arabian Peninsula and East Africa have chewed the fresh leaves of the Catha edulis plant which has effects similar to amphetamines and cocaine. It causes euphoria, hyperactivity, restlessness, loss of appetite and weight loss.

In Yemen, some people have khat picnics, chewing the leaves for as much as three hours, like tobacco chewing. Its use has spread globally throughout Western Europe and into the United States. Seven metric tons of khat travel through Heathrow Airport in England each week, and fresh and dried khat has been seized and confiscated in the United States where it is illegal, researchers said.

In the 2nd Gulf Registry of Acute Coronary Events (Gulf RACE-2) Study, researchers -- comparing 1,408 khat chewers to 5,991 people who didn't use khat -- found: For the study, researchers enrolled men and women from 65 hospitals in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Oman.

About 96 percent of the khat users were from Yemen, where khat is legal and socially acceptable, unlike the other countries in the study.

"Global awareness of the negative impact of khat chewing on health and social life is warranted before it becomes endemic," said Jassim Al Suwaidi, M.B., Ch.B., study co-author and Consultant Cardiologist and Director of Cardiovascular Research in the Department of Cardiology and Cardiovascular Surgery at Hamad General Hospital in Doha, Qatar. "This report underscores the importance of improving education about the cardiovascular risks of khat chewing as well as the need for further studies in the field."

Furthermore, researchers found: The worse in-hospital outcomes may be related to delays in people getting to the hospital after the onset of symptoms and failing to receive thrombolytic (clot-busting) therapy or treatment with beta blockers, researchers said.
-end-
Co-authors are: Waleed M. Ali, M.D.; Al Habib KF, M.D.; Ahmed Al Motarreb, M.D.; Rajvir Singh, Ph.D.; Ahmad Hersi, M.D.; Hassam Al Faleh, M.D.; Nidal Asaad, M.M.B.S.; Shukri Al SaiF, M.D.; Wael Almameed, M.D.; Kadhim Sulaiman, M.D.; Haitham Amin, M.D.; Jawad Al-Lawati, M.D.; Nizar Al Bustani, M.D.; Norah Q. Al-Sagheer, M.D.; and Awad Al-Qahtani, M.B.Ch.B.

Author disclosures and sources of funding are on the manuscript.

Statements and conclusions of study authors published in American Heart Association scientific journals are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect the association's policy or position. The association makes no representation or guarantee as to their accuracy or reliability. The association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific association programs and events. The association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and device corporations are available at http://www.heart.org/corporatefunding.

American Heart Association

Related Stroke Articles from Brightsurf:

Stroke alarm clock may streamline and accelerate time-sensitive acute stroke care
An interactive, digital alarm clock may speed emergency stroke care, starting at hospital arrival and through each step of the time-sensitive treatment process.

Stroke patients with COVID-19 have increased inflammation, stroke severity and death
Stroke patients who also have COVID-19 showed increased systemic inflammation, a more serious stroke severity and a much higher rate of death, compared to stroke patients who did not have COVID-19, according a retrospective, observational, cross-sectional study of 60 ischemic stroke patients admitted to UAB Hospital between late March and early May 2020.

'Time is vision' after a stroke
University of Rochester researchers studied stroke patients who experienced vision loss and found that the patients retained some visual abilities immediately after the stroke but these abilities diminished gradually and eventually disappeared permanently after approximately six months.

More stroke awareness, better eating habits may help reduce stroke risk for young adult African-Americans
Young African-Americans are experiencing higher rates of stroke because of health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity, yet their perception of their stroke risk is low.

How to help patients recover after a stroke
The existing approach to brain stimulation for rehabilitation after a stroke does not take into account the diversity of lesions and the individual characteristics of patients' brains.

Kids with headache after stroke might be at risk for another stroke
A new study has found a high incidence of headaches in pediatric stroke survivors and identified a possible association between post-stroke headache and stroke recurrence.

High stroke impact in low- and middle-income countries examined at 11th World Stroke Congress
Less wealthy countries struggle to meet greater need with far fewer resources.

Marijuana use might lead to higher risk of stroke, World Stroke Congress to be told
A five-year study of hospital statistics from the United States shows that the incidence of stroke has risen steadily among marijuana users even though the overall rate of stroke remained constant over the same period.

We need to talk about sexuality after stroke
Stroke survivors and their partners are not adequately supported to deal with changes to their relationships, self-identity, gender roles and intimacy following stroke, according to new research from the University of Sydney.

Standardized stroke protocol can ensure ELVO stroke patients are treated within 60 minutes
A new study shows that developing a standardized stroke protocol of having neurointerventional teams meet suspected emergent large vessel occlusion (ELVO) stroke patients upon their arrival at the hospital achieves a median door-to-recanalization time of less than 60 minutes.

Read More: Stroke News and Stroke Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.