Endocarditis: IV Drug Use and Your Heart

“Endocarditis is a serious, hard to treat condition that significantly increases one’s risk of death. We are working as a team to help find solutions for communities to combat the spread of pandemics and increase awareness in our cities about the dangers of opioid use and the life-threatening condition of endocarditis.”

~ Dr. Mark Bates, MD, Director of Cardiovascular Research Advancement, Charleston Area Medical Center (CAMC)

In early 2018, a study was that highlighted how intravenous drug abuse can lead to endocarditis, a potentially-fatal bacterial infection of the heart.  A presentation was given at the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI) 2018 Scientific Sessions, the annual meeting held in California.

The SCAI is made up of over 4000 physicians, cardiovascular professionals, hospital administrators, and academics from 75 nations around the world.

What is Endocarditis?

Endocarditis is typically associated with abnormal heart valves or other defects,  but it can also be caused by using dirty, unsanitary needles to inject drugs. This allows bacteria from the needle to be released directly into the person’s bloodstream. Endocarditis is extremely hard to treat and often ends in death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug addicts with endocarditis are 10 times more likely to die or require a second surgery months after initially being discharged from the hospital.

Patients involved in the study had a history of abusing large quantities of cocaine and opioids, and this is what probably weakened their immune system and made them more vulnerable to the bacteria that was continually introduced into their bloodstream by repeated drug injections.

What Does This Mean to Orange County Residents?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that approximately 1% of the general population abuses illicit drugs intravenously.  That means there are almost 32,000 IV drug users in Orange County.

It also means that there are over 57,000 people infected with Hepatitis C  Orange County. HCV is the most-common blood-borne infection in America.

Of special relevance, between 75% and 80% of IV drug users are currently not in treatment. Another 20% are possibly ready to seek treatment, but have problems accessing rehab services.

Getting Help

But if you live in Southern California, there is a reputable local resource that is ready to help you overcome your IV drug addiction, safely regain your sobriety, and protect your health. Chapman House Treatment Centers is a premier drug rehab in Orange that offers a complete range of evidence-based treatment services, including:

  • Residential Detox
  • Residential Rehab
  • Outpatient and Intensive Outpatient Programs
  • Partial Hospitalization

If you are worried about the effect that your drug use may have on your health, contact Chapman House TODAY.


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