As the opioid epidemic evolves, intravenous drug use is increasing and leading to a dramatic increase in infective endocarditis.
In collaboration with colleagues at Duke University and the N.C. Division of Public Health, Asher Schranz, M.D., the study’s author and a fellow in the UNC Division of Infectious Diseases, studied state data on endocarditis hospitalizations from 2007 to 2017. They found a tenfold increase in the number of hospitalizations due to drug-associated infective endocarditis, with the most significant spike in the past four years. As recently as five years ago, less than 10 heart valve replacement surgeries were done to treat drug-associated endocarditis. Now, 109 surgeries are done annually in North Carolina to treat drug-associated endocarditis, and overwhelmingly occur in young persons. The median age of persons undergoing surgery for this condition is 33.