The American Heart Association (AHA) launched in December 2018 a 30-minute online course titled “Opioid Education for Healthcare Providers,” in an effort to educate clinicians on the opioid epidemic, as well as actions to take when dealing with an opioid overdose and the neurobiology of pain and addiction.1

“As the provider of resuscitation training for more than 90% of US hospitals, the American Heart Association is stepping into this crisis and filling the need in standardized education for healthcare professionals,” said Eduardo Sanchez, MD, MPH, the AHA chief medical officer for prevention.2 “Arming as many people as possible with up-to-date, practical knowledge on what to do — both immediately and as follow up — is imperative to saving lives and improving outcomes.”

Clinical Pain Advisor reached out to the AHA to find out more about this course:

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Clinical Pain Advisor: What knowledge gaps does this course address regarding the opioid epidemic and resuscitating practices for opioid overdose victims?

AHA: This course is meant to deliver standardized introductory education regarding the opioid crisis and respond to patients experiencing an opioid overdose in various healthcare settings. It highlights the crisis of the number of lives being lost to opioids, discusses why opioids are so addictive, and reviews methods of naloxone administration outside the hospital, as well as delivery and dosing in hospital. The course emphasizes the importance of ongoing medical care or addiction treatment in patients struggling with opioid use disorder.

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Clinical Pain Advisor: Is AHA planning future courses with a greater focus on nonpharmacologic therapies for the management of chronic pain in various conditions?

AHA: The mission of the AHA is to be a relentless worldwide force for longer, healthier lives. We also strive to be a responsive partner to healthcare systems and providers. Since the opioid crisis is such an issue for the health and well-being of Americans, related topics may be explored in the future.

Clinical Pain Advisor: Does the course aim to reconcile physicians’ concerns about prescribing opioids in the current context and in the aftermath of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guideline for prescribing opioids with a desire to adequately treat their patients with chronic pain? Does it provide advice about identifying opioid use disorder in patients, eg, behaviors, use of prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs)?

AHA: This is a basic course designed to serve as an introduction. It focuses on the emergency treatment of an opioid overdose and highlights areas for post care. It does not go into prescribing opioids, prescription-seeking behaviors, or use of PDMPs. It is possibile that more advanced courses may be developed in the future.


  1. American Heart Association. Opioid education for healthcare providers. Accessed January 25, 2019.
  2. American Heart Association. Online course to facilitate improved outcomes of opioid overdoses. Accessed January 25, 2019.

This article originally appeared on Clinical Pain Advisor