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Chewing Khat Raises Heart Disease, Death Risk: Study
Date:12/13/2011

gastrointestinal problems, in addition to cardiovascular issues such as coronary artery spasm.

Because cathinone is a Schedule I narcotic under U.S. federal law, khat is illegal and as with drugs such as heroin or mescaline, cannot be used for medical or other purposes.

Although banned in Germany, France and the Netherlands, khat is currently legal in the United Kingdom.

Khat is legal and in widespread use throughout Yemen and Ethiopia, and is currently permitted for sale in Israel.

To explore how khat might boost health risks among individuals with a history of heart disease, between 2008 and 2009 the authors focused on roughly 7,400 men and women who were part of the 2nd Gulf Registry of Acute Coronary Events (Gulf RACE-2) Study.

All were being treated for acute coronary syndrome in one of 65 hospitals across Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Oman.

Of these participants, about 20 percent were deemed to be regular khat chewers, almost all (96 percent) from Yemen. They more likely to be older and male (14 percent were women), but less likely to have heart health risk factors than non-Khat chewers.

While still being treated in hospital, khat heart patients had about double the death rate due to cardiovascular illness compared to non-khat heart patients (7.5 percent death rate vs. 3.8 percent).

One month out, the risk spread was even greater: a 15.5 percent death rate among khat users vs. 6.4 percent among non-users. And at one year, the death rate was nearly 19 percent among khat users, compared with just under 11 percent among non-users.

Overall, Suwaidi and associates determined that independent of other contributing factors, khat-using heart patients were more likely to experience arrhythmia, heart failure, heart attack or a stroke than non-khat-using heart patients, in addition to facing a higher risk for death, regardless of gender.

"The ease and rapidity of travel [make khat
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