Infective endocarditis on the increase among injection drug users


Emobileclinic Researchers Corner



There has been growing concern on the rise of infective endocarditis cases resulting from the use of intravenous injection drug among young people particularly young white according to a new study published in Open Forum Infectious Diseases.


From the available data on health care claim, Dr Alysse G. Wurcel, one of the researchers said that “these infections are dangerous and often need surgery, and people who inject drugs frequently get these infections,” and that they saw “across the country that injection drug use is not necessarily an urban or an impoverished community issue. The racial, age, and gender distributions are changing.”

The researchers used a publicly available database of inpatient discharges from community hospitals across the country, it was discovered that there was a general increase in the proportion of patients on admission on account of infective endocarditis occasioned by injection drug use from 7 to percent to 12 percent between the years 2000 and 2013.

There was also a significant demographic shift in the proportion of hospital admission for heart infections linked to drug use among patients between the ages of 15 and 34 with steady rise from 27 percent to 42 percent in the years under review. The proportion of hospitalizations among whites also increased from 40 percent to 69 percent while female patients among those hospitalized with infective endocarditis linked to drug use accounted for 53 percent of such patients in the younger 15-34 age group.

Infective endocarditis is a deadly and expensive heart infection with treatment usually involves several weeks of intravenous antibiotics and sometimes surgery to repair or replace damaged heart valves. Dr Wurcel in view of this said there is a need to design more programs in trying to help prevent these types of infections from happening. He also envisaged the need to develop mechanism to shorten the available prolonged care of patients with these infections and to sensitize the young people on the risks of opioid abuse and injection drug use.

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In conclusion, the team advocates for further studies to examine the costs of treating infective endocarditis among patients who inject drugs noting that this attract support and increased funding for additional harm-reduction efforts, including needle-exchange programs, which allow injection drug users to obtain clean needles and syringes from funding organizations..

The study was funded support by the National Institutes of Health and the Lifespan/Tufts/Brown Center for AIDS Research.

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