According to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the opioid epidemic is leading to an alarming number of people with heart infections. Notably, a heart infection called infective endocarditis. Infective endocarditis is an infection of the valves or inner lining of the heart and its chambers, most often caused by bacteria or fungi entering the bloodstream. This surprising new trend is predominantly affecting young, Caucasian, low-income males, who also experience higher instances of Hepatitis C, alcohol abuse, and HIV.
The Prevalence of Infective Endocarditis and Its Risk Factors
About 34,000 people seek treatment for infective endocarditis every year, and one out of five of those people die from the condition. One of the most prevalent risk factors for this infection is the abuse of drugs, particularly opioids. The study found that between the years of 2002 and 2016, drug-abuse-related heart infections doubled from 8% to 16% in the United States. Furthermore, every geographic region experienced a jump in the amount of these infections at a rate of up to 5% increase per year.
Infective Endocarditis Related to Drug Abuse
The average age of those with infective endocarditis was 38 years old, with males being the most impacted population. Almost half of those studied were also low-income, had higher health care costs, and longer hospital stays than those who were not drug abusers. Consequently, those who experienced drug abuse were also more likely to have heart surgery but less likely to die during hospitalization: likely attributed to their young ages.
Managing This Crisis
This epidemic requires specialized groups of cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, infectious disease specialists, addiction specialists, and social workers to aid and care for the affected population. Treating infective endocarditis is just one component of broader public health measures that need implementation. Addressing addiction, particularly the opioid crisis, through rehabilitation programs, is vital to improving health and preventing relapse among those affected.
Opioids are affecting our population at an alarming rate. Opioid addiction is increasing, and therefore the health risks that it creates are highlighted through this epidemic. Studies are finding that the heart is at a particularly high risk for damage through opioid addiction. Recovery from addiction requires acceptance, acknowledgment, and commitment. At Fort Worth Recovery, we offer a nurturing space to support clients on their road to recovery. We seek to inspire clients to face their challenges and foster hope for their future. If you or a loved one is struggling with opioid addiction, call us today at 817-381-9741 or visit us online.