HealthDay News — According to a study published in the Summer issue of Open Forum Infectious Diseases, the rate of Americans being hospitalized with infective endocarditis (IE) secondary to opioid and heroin injections is increasing.

Alysse Wurcel, MD, of the Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, and colleagues reviewed US hospital admissions for IE. In 2013, 12.1% of hospitalizations for IE were related to injection drug use (IDU), compared to 7.0% in 2000. The actual number of cases rose to 8,530 from 3,578.

The researchers found that the increase was especially high among young, white, and female patients. From 2000 to 2013, the proportion of hospitalizations from IDU rose from 27.1 to 42.0% among 15- to 34-year-old patients. Among white patients, the proportion of IDU-IE hospitalizations rose from 40.2 to 68.9%; and among white young adults, from 57.0 to 80.3%. Females accounted for 40.9% of IDU-IE hospitalizations in 2013, and 53.0% of young adult hospitalizations.

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“As clinicians, we have observed a major increase in young people with opioid addiction cycling in and out of the health care system, and many end up with devastating complications of injection drug use like infective endocarditis,” Wurcel said in a Tufts news release. “Our study confirms that this trend is increasing across the US and represents yet another indicator of the challenges we face with the national opioid epidemic.”


Wurcel AG, et al. Increasing Infectious Endocarditis Admissions Among Young People Who Inject Drugs. Open Forum Infect Dis. 2016;3(3). doi: 10.1093/ofid/ofw157.

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