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Cardiac Cases Related to Substance Use Rise in National Study

September 23, 2019

Hospitalizations for a serious cardiac complication related to drug abuse increased substantially between 2002 and 2016, with the Midwest seeing the greatest increases nationally, a study released last week by the Cleveland Clinic shows.

Published Sept. 18 in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the study examining nearly 1 million hospitalizations across the country found that hospitalizations for endocarditis that were related to drug abuse increased from 8% to 16% during the period examined. Endocarditis, which is potentially fatal, occurs when bacteria enter the bloodstream and stick to the lining of heart valves.

The study found that patients whose endocarditis was related to substance use were more likely to be white males in their 30s who had low incomes and additional health complications that included HIV and hepatitis C.

“Treating the infection is only part of the management plan,” said Serge Harb, MD, senior author of the study and a Cleveland Clinic cardiologist. “The bigger picture is to help these patients and provide them with social support, put them in effective rehab programs, and help them with their addictive behaviors so that we can prevent relapse.”

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