Complications To Heart And Blood Vessels

Drug abuse is related to a number of heart and blood vessel medical complications. Some of these, such as alcohol cardiomyopathy, are a direct result of the drug's toxic effects. Others are at least partially related to needle use.

Endocarditis, an infection of the tissues in the heart, usually a heart valve, is a progressive disease characterized by frequent embolization (obstruction of blood vessels) and severe heart-valve destruction that can be fatal if not treated. This disease can result from repeated injection of the infective agents into the blood system, usually from nonsterile needles and/or unusual methods of injection. Infective endocarditis is highly prevalent among drug abusers and should be suspected in any needle-using abuser who shows such symptoms as the following: fever of unknown origin; heart murmur; pneumonia; embolic phenomena; blood cultures that are positive for Candida, Staphylococcus aureus or enterococcus, or Gram-negative organisms.

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