The current opioid epidemic is believed to be linked to a life-threatening heart infection. Known as infective endocarditis , which is infection of the heart's inner lining or valves, medical experts believe that can be linked to opioid abuse and addiction.

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Information supplied in the Journal of the American Heart Association states that this disease affects predominantly poor, young, white males who also often have higher rates of HIV, Hepatitis C and alcohol abuse.

According to the information released by the American Heart Association Infective Endocarditis occurs when fungi or bacteria enter the heart's inner lining or valves.  In the study data indicates close to 34,000 people receive treatment for the disease every year. Twenty percent of those diagnosed die due to the effects of the disease.

During 14 years of study from the National Inpatient Sample registry which analyzed data from nearly one million patients diagnosed with infective endocarditis it was found that infections due to drug abuse nearly doubled in the United States from eight percent to 16 percent. The increase was seen in all geographic regions with the highest jump of five Percent in the Midwest.