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Heavy Users of 'Ecstasy' May Be At Greater Risk of Heart Disease (11/09/03)

     In 1997, the appetite suppressant fenfluramine was pulled off the market after discovering that users were more likely to develop heart valve abnormalities. Researchers eventually linked the problem to the activation of a type of serotonin receptor (5-HT2b) found in heart muscle tissue; fenfluramine activated the receptor, promoting the abnormal growth of heart tissue.

     Now, researchers have demonstrated that MDMA and MDA are also able to activate this receptor, raising the possibility that frequent exposure to these drugs may also increase user's risk of developing heart problems. Given the relative scarcity of such problems even among fenfluramine users (who took the drug daily by prescription) is seems unlikely that occasional use of MDA/MDMA poses a significant risk, although these findings do provide one more reason why frequent use (such as the several-times-a-week usage of addicts/heavy abusers) is cause for concern.