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Addiction care urged for people who inject drugs and develop dangerous heart infection American Heart Association

iv drug use abusers are at an increased risk of infective endocarditis , due to the bacteremia caused by unsterile injections. Their population is mostly constituted by relatively healthy young adults with no underlying cardiac diseases. Nevertheless, despite the patients’ young age, IE presents itself as a challenging condition with high mortality rates. Overall, even in the era of modern medicine with targeted antibiotic therapy IE in patients with active intravenous drug use presents with 1-year mortality rates of up to 40% .

  • The timing, indication for, and type of operation were recorded.
  • From 2002 to 2016, the number of Americans who went to the hospital for infective endocarditis who also abused drugs doubled from 8% to 16%.
  • Necrotizing fasciitis, the so-called “flesh-eating disease,” is a rare but serious infection that can affect people who inject IV drugs.
  • Valve repair is advocated by some studies but repair has not proven to be superior to either valve replacement or valvectomy.

Importantly, other pathogens noted in IDUs are oral bacteria such as Prevotella intermedia, Haemophilus parainfluenzae, S. A possible practical medium for data collection and generation of a large international database of IDU-related endocarditis cases is the World Wide Web. Such a database could accrue a sufficient number of cases to allow more powerful statistical analysis to be applied to further evaluate the pathogenesis of this major clinical entity. Such a database would be helpful in unravelling a lot of the contradicting data that exists in the literature, often based on small case series or isolated clinical observations.

IV Drug Use Complications and Dangers

Left, a heart-lung machine used during an endocarditis valve-replacement operation. Dr. Pollard, a quietly driven high school valedictorian, used to have no empathy for drug-addicted patients. Ms. Whitefield’s scar from heart surgery, which involved sawing open her breastbone, connecting her to a bypass machine to keep blood flowing through her body, then stopping her heart and fixing the damaged valve. Volkow said that endocarditis is driven by people sharing injection equipment, which is why syringe service programs are so vital.

Five patients (20.8%) were readmitted with recurrent infective endocarditis. In any type of prosthesis, survival on long-term is similar in any tricuspid valve replacement with prosthesis . Homograft tissue valve may be used after valvectomy mainly with cryopreserved mitral homograft . Previous studies of outcomes in people who inject drugs with infective endocarditis have often been retrospective, have had small sample sizes, and the duration of follow-up has been short and limited to patients who were operated on. Subacute endocarditis – This form of endocarditis most often is caused by one of the viridans group of streptococci that normally live in the mouth and throat. Streptococcus bovis or Streptococcus equinus also can cause subacute endocarditis, typically in patients who have a gastrointestinal problem, such as diverticulitis or colon cancer.

Heart chambers infographic

Echocardiography – In this test, sound waves are used to outline the structure of the heart, the heart chambers and heart valves. By using echocardiography, your doctor can check for abnormal growths that contain infecting organisms inside the heart. He or she also can look for abscesses inside the heart and for signs of damage to natural or artificial heart valves. The best type of echocardiography for evaluating heart valves is transesophageal echocardiography, in which a tube is inserted through your mouth, allowing images of the heart to be obtained from just behind it.

  • Check with your local chapter or print the card from the association’s website.
  • She has also started serving as an advocate of sorts for others in her community who get endocarditis or other infections from injecting, driving them to the emergency room or sharing every detail of the protocol that saved her.
  • To assess the impact of missing values of the severity of illness score, sensitivity analysis was performed using 3 regression models.
  • Similarly to most examples of IE, Staphylococcus aureus is the causative agent in majority of IE cases (60–70%) related to IDU and is mostly MSSA.

Even once patients’ infection and heart condition has been addressed, discharging them from the hospital can present unique challenges. Many of those who inject drugs are also experiencing dangerous or unpredictable housing situations, and those whose addictions remain untreated often quickly return to use. The increased case count is one of the lesser-known side effects of the deadly addiction epidemic. But patients with endocarditis, an inflammation of the heart lining caused by infection, require complex, thoughtful care — care that the U.S. health system is ill-equipped to provide.


The sharpest increase occurred between 2021 and 2022 — a spike that the study’s authors attribute to the Covid-19 pandemic. Ncreased injection drug use has led to a spike in cases of the life-threatening heart condition endocarditis, with cases rapidly accelerating since the onset of Covid-19. Dirty needles can send bacteria into the bloodstream, increasing the risk of endocarditis.

cardiac surgery

Despite the aggressive antibiotic treatment, the patient remained febrile. On the fifth day of his hospital stay, transesophageal echocardiography was performed, and a 1.5 cm vegetation was found on the aortic valve. The antibiotic regimen was then changed to nafcillin and gentamicin (3 mg/kg qday for 5 days) for MSSA positive endocarditis. The patient, however, did not improve and 2 weeks after admission, had a cardiac arrest and died. A study of U.S. health information from 2002 to 2016 found that the proportion of patients hospitalized with infective endocarditis related to injection drug use doubled from 8% to about 16%.

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