Can Opioids Damage Your Heart?

Editorial Team

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Can Opioids Damage Your Heart? Find Out How Opioids May Affect Your Cardiovascular Health

When people think about heart problems, the risk factors that usually come to mind include an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, and smoking. What you may not know is that drug use can play a role as well. Can opioids damage your heart? There’s evidence that they can have an adverse impact on your cardiovascular health.

What are opioids

Why Is It Important to Investigate Heart Health and Opioid Use?

For numerous people in the U.S. and around the world, cardiovascular problems result in death or overall poor health. In the U.S. alone, heart disease is the cause of roughly 610,000 deaths each year, and strokes lead to approximately 140,000 deaths. To figure out how to better address the critical problem of poor cardiovascular health, we need to deepen our understanding of all the possible contributing factors.

According to data from 2017 shared by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, over 11 million people reported misusing prescription opioids in the previous year, and hundreds of thousands of people used heroin. Given the widespread use of prescription painkillers, heroin, illegal versions of fentanyl, and other opioids, it’s important to understand their connection to various health issues, including cardiovascular problems.

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Can Opioids Damage Your Heart?

Atrial Fibrillation

A recent study of medical records from over 850,000 military veterans showed a link between opioid use and a greater risk of atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation is a disorder affecting the rhythm of the heart. The two upper chambers display rhythmic irregularity by quivering.

What can happen as a result? People with atrial fibrillation have a higher chance of suffering from blood clots and strokes. They may also experience heart failure, a serious condition that involves the heart losing its ability to function properly.

Atrial Fibrillation

Changes in cardiac function

A research review published in 2015 found that there’s still much to be studied about the effect of opioids on the heart, particularly how the type of opioid, its dose, and the duration of use influence cardiovascular health. One factor to consider is how opioids interact with other substances. For example, the review mentions that opioids combined with benzodiazepines can lead to poorer cardiac function. Benzodiazepines include Klonopin, Xanax, and Valium, drugs often used to treat seizures or certain mood disorders.

According to the review, morphine and some other opioids can elevate the risk of low blood pressure, and Tramadol and Tapentadol can lead to cardiac arrhythmia. The specific risks from each drug may be influenced by other drugs you’re taking and your medical history.

Cardiac Functions

Endocarditis

People who inject heroin run a higher risk of various infections, including endocarditis. This potentially life-threatening infection attacks the valves in the heart or the lining of the heart’s chambers.

Its symptoms include chest pain, fatigue, heart murmur, shortness of breath, swelling in the legs and feet, and pain in the joints and muscles. When it goes untreated, it can lead to various severe complications, including heart failure, strokes, and the development of abscesses in the heart.

Endocarditis

Even Without Addiction, You May Suffer Poor Health Outcomes

Keep in mind that people don’t need to be addicted to opioids to suffer heart problems or other negative effects on their health.

However, the risk of poor outcomes is potentially much higher when people misuse prescription opioids or turn to illegal substances. They may take unsafe doses or use substances that have been tampered with. They also don’t benefit from the supervision of a healthcare professional who will take their medical history into account, offer sound guidance if they’re experiencing side effects, and advise them on which medications don’t mix.

Every day, an estimated 130 people in the U.S. suffer a fatal overdose from opioids. Even though more research needs to be conducted on the link between opioids and heart health, we already have a body of research showing how dangerous opioids can be. Opioid misuse, chronic use, or illegal use can cause serious health problems, including damage to the respiratory and digestive systems.

Poor health can also result from neglect. When people struggle with an addiction, they may not be eating a nutritious diet or enjoying restful sleep on most nights. Relying on professional assistance is the best strategy for tackling drug misuse and building healthier habits.

Heart health and opioid abuse

Seeking Help With Opioid Use

The connection between cocaine use and heart attacks has often been emphasized. But cardiovascular health can also suffer from the misuse or chronic use of other drugs, including opioids.

In order to protect your heart’s health, prevent damage to the rest of your body, reduce the risk of an overdose, and strengthen your psychological and spiritual well-being, consider turning to a reputable treatment center such as SpringBoard Recovery. Numerous people from all backgrounds and walks of life have made use of treatments for drug addiction or misuse. In one of their excellent programs, you’ll find well-informed and compassionate professionals, a consistently supportive environment, and a treatment approach that’s holistic.

Contact SpringBoard Recovery today if you or a loved one is suffering from opioid addiction or misuse.

Sources:

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/stroke/facts.htm
  3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: https://www.hhs.gov/opioids/about-the-epidemic/index.html
  4. Science Daily: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181105081746.htm
  5. Heart: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-failure/what-is-heart-failure
  6. Oxford Academic: https://academic.oup.com/painmedicine/article/16/suppl_1/S27/2472479
  7. National Institute on Drug Abuse: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/what-are-medical-complications-chronic-heroin-use
  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/epidemic/index.html
  9. National Library of Medicine: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23636734/
  10. US National Library of Medicine: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3687404/

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WRITTEN BY ROBERT CASTAN
APRIL 30, 2019

Robert Castan is a member of the Executive Leadership Team at SpringBoard Recovery. Robert started his professional career as a house manager and has become an industry leader and trusted voice in the treatment world. He brings extensive knowledge of organizational growth, industry-leading outcomes, and comprehensive marketing to SpringBoard Recovery. Robert has been walking his own path of recovery for over 10 years. This path has truly driven his ambition to help make treatment available to others who are struggling with addiction. Robert finds great joy in traveling and keeping physically active, with an emphasis on biking. Robert resides in Arizona with his husband and two four-legged children.   The U.S. Alcohol Crisis, Still Deadlier Than the Opioid Epidemic   Zombies and Other Future Threats to the Health of American Youth Dire Mental Health: A Catalyst for Post-Pandemic Drug Addiction The Benefits of Rehab Center Staff Working Their Own Recovery Opinion: The Opioid Crisis + COVID-19 = The Perfect Storm Robert Castan on Successful Addiction Treatment and Entrepreneurship Castan: The road less traveled of addiction & recovery in Scottsdale Opioids & COVID Driving Phoenix’s Rising Fatal Drug Overdoses Opinion: The Opioid Crisis + COVID-19 = The Perfect Storm Successful Addiction Treatment Programs & Entrepreneurship

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