Opioid Epidemic and Heart Infections

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Opioid Side Effects and Heart Disease

In 2020 the American Heart Association published a study that shows the opioid epidemic has correlated to an increase in heart infections as one of the opioid side effects. This is happening throughout the United States. These researchers found this from looking into hospitalizations across the country.

From 2002 to 2016, the number of Americans who went to the hospital for infective endocarditis, a heart infection, who also abused drugs doubled, which was found not only in one state but all over the country.

What are Opioids?

Opioids are a type of narcotic pain medication. They bind to the brain’s receptors, the spinal cord, and other areas of the body. Essentially, these drugs tell your brain you are not in pain.

They can have serious side effects if misused, and they often lead to addiction. Most people who struggle with opioid addiction started with a prescription.

The most common opioids include:

  • Lortab
  • Vicodin
  • Dilaudid
  • Demerol
  • Methadone
  • Morphine
  • OxyContin
  • Percocet

What is Infective Endocarditis?

Infective endocarditis is a bacterial infection of the valves or lining of the heart’s inner chambers. This infection results from bacteria entering the bloodstream. Infective endocarditis often affects people who already suffer from heart disease, but those who abuse drugs are an even higher risk factor. Heroin needles are known to carry the bacteria that cause infective endocarditis. It is believed that opioids are responsible for most of the infective endocarditis cases we see today.

Symptoms of Infective Endocarditis

  • chest pain
  • fever
  • chills
  • fatigue
  • nausea
  • joint and muscle pain

Antibiotics can cure the infection, but treatment is necessary to avoid organ damage, heart failure, and stroke. An estimated 34,000 people contract infective endocarditis every year, and 20% of them die. The number of heart infections involving illegal drugs increased by about 5% every year. Researchers have determined that most of the victims of this phenomenon are white, low-income men.

What are the Side Effects of Opioids?

Physical Side Effects

  • Constipation: This side effect can be decreased by adding more fluids into your diet. You can also increase fiber, as well as moderate exercise. Laxatives or stool softeners can usually help constipation if necessary.
  • Nausea: Nausea and vomiting often occur in the first day or two of taking an opioid medication. They also occur if you stop using opioids because withdrawal symptoms come on.
  • Clouded thinking and sedation: One of the most common and dangerous opioid side effects is the cause of sedation, drowsiness, or sleepiness. You might become confused, disoriented, or absentminded.
  • Slowed breathing: Opioids can slow breathing, especially in high doses. You should always monitor your breathing, as well as your vital signs.
  • Small pupils
  • Itching or constant scratching
  • Lack of coordination
  • “Track Marks”: These are scars from intravenous use in arms, hands, or other parts of the body.

Behavioral Side Effects

  • extreme euphoria
  • sudden or dramatic mood swings
  • avoiding social situations
  • isolation
  • Dishonesty or keeping secrets
  • issues with work, family, and friends
  • inability to fulfill commitments
  • changes in habits or routines
  • visiting multiple doctors to obtain prescriptions for opioids

Opioid Withdrawal

Once you have started abusing opioids, your body will begin to depend on having the drugs in your system. You will no longer feel normal without them. Some of these withdrawal symptoms are like having the flu. Withdrawal symptoms might include:

  • diarrhea
  • nausea/vomiting
  • muscle pain/cramps
  • anxiety
  • irritability
  • sweating
  • runny nose
  • chills
  • restlessness

Payment Information

Do you want treatment for your opioid addiction and opioid side effects but are worried about how you can pay for it? We have a team of financial professionals who provide free insurance verification. We will work with you to determine how to move forward with the treatment in a way that works for you and your financial situation.

How to Get Help

Are you or someone you love suffering from addiction? At Resurgence Behavioral Health, we understand how difficult it can be to give up an addiction. Our dedicated team will help you customize a treatment plan to help you heal from your addiction.

Our goal is for you to leave Resurgence Behavioral Health with mental fortitude and coping skills to maintain lifelong sobriety. Call Resurgence Behavioral Health at 855-458-0050 to schedule an appointment. We challenge you to make a fresh start with us today.