Club Drug Ecstasy Causes Sleep Apnea

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A new study from the Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore have published a study in the American Academy of Neurology journal suggesting that using the recreational drug ecstasy, also known as MDMA, puts users at risk of sleep apnea. Cognitive malfunctions were also linked to the drug ecstasy.

An estimated 15-million Americans are affected with sleep apnea, a common disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep. Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes. They often occur 5 to 30 times or more an hour. Typically, normal breathing then starts again, sometimes with a loud snort or choking sound.

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Among the study participants were 71 recreational users of ecstasy that they have used at least 25-times, but were drug-free two weeks prior to the study. The other participants included 62-healthy people who had never tried the drug. Both groups participating in the study were monitored all night in a sleep lab.

What the scientists found was that users of ecstasy to have 8-times the risk of apnea or hypo-apnea episodes while sleeping, as compared to those who were not users of the drug. “People who use ecstasy need to know that this drug damages the brain and can cause immediate and dangerous problems such as sleep apnea,” says author of the study Una McCann, MD, of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore. “Sleep apnea in itself is dangerous, but it can also contribute to thinking problems in people who use ecstasy because chronic sleep disruption is known to have a negative effect on how a person functions during the daytime.”
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The drug ecstasy is a selective brain serotonin neurotoxin, and sleep apnea may be a consequence of this effect. “Brain serotonin neurons modulate sleep and breathing patterns through a variety of mechanisms,” says McCann. Not only does ecstasy create dangerous problems like sleep apnea, it creates thinking problems, since chronic sleep disruption has a negative effect on the functioning of a person during the daytime.

Regardless of the age, gender, race, and obesity in healthy young adults, ecstasy according to researchers is a risk factor for sleep apnea, with both use of ecstasy and sleep apnea having reached epidemic proportions in the U. S., which should be of concern to both scientists and physicians.

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