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Injection Drug Use Blamed for Rise in Endocarditis

By HealthLeaders Media News  
   September 22, 2016

Heart infection hospitalizations are skyrocketing among white young adults, inpatient data shows.

Another ripple effect of the country's opioid drug problem is emerging: There has been significant rise in hospitalizations for infective endocarditis, a heart valve infection often attributed to injection drug use.

That increase is especially pronounced among young, white adults.

Infective endocarditis is a sometimes lethal infection of the heart valves, and while some cases are related to things like congenital defects, the infection can also come from injection drug use, which can introduce bacteria into the blood stream.

Injection drug use-related infective endocarditis (IDU-IE) represented about 12% of all infective endocarditis hospitalizations in the United States in 2013, according to a study by Tufts Medical Center and Tufts University School of Medicine, published in Open Forum Infectious Diseases.

That's up significantly from just 7% in 2000. The increase represents an estimated growth from 3,578 cases in 2000 to 8,530 in 2013. The rise is especially dramatic among young people, whites, and females, the researchers found.

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