Deaths from bacterial infections in the heart are on the rise among young people who inject drugs

Glass laboratory flasks on light table

Infective endocarditis (IE)—a bacterial infection in the heart or blood vessels— affects 40,000–50,000 patients in the United States per year and has a 1-year average mortality rate of 30%. People who inject drugs (PWID) tend to be younger and have a higher risk for IE due to the entrance of bacteria in the bloodstream. In fact, IE cases among younger patients and PWID have increased, likely as a result of the ongoing opioid epidemic. A recent analysis published in the Journal of Internal Medicine reveals that the risk of death from IE among young US residents aged 15–44 years old has doubled in the last 2 decades. Additionally, the percentage of PWID among young people who die of IE has reached almost 20%.

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