New research uncovers more damage wrought by the opioid epidemic: Cases of a dangerous heart infection linked to injection drug use have spiked in recent years at an Ohio medical center.
Researchers found that admissions for infective endocarditis at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center doubled between 2012 and 2017, and that a 436 percent increase in drug-related infections accounted for most of that increase.
"What's most striking is how quickly this problem got out of hand," said lead author Dr. Serena Day, a cardiology fellow at Ohio State University.
"Five years ago, this disease was very uncommon for us. Now, it's become so common that we can't keep up," Day added in a news release from the American College of Cardiology.
Infective endocarditis occurs when harmful bacteria build up on the heart's valves or the inside lining of the heart. This type of infection has typically affected older people with certain heart defects or an artificial heart valve, but injection drug users are also at risk because contaminated needles can introduce bacteria into the bloodstream.