The continued rise in opioid overdose deaths has health experts concerned about the drugs’ impact on heart and brain health.
In a new paper from the American Heart Association, researchers suggest strategies to help curb deaths and better manage pain in people with heart disease and stroke.
They showed 2 in 3 overdose deaths involved opioids. Opioid overdose resulted in 49,860 deaths in 2019, according to CDC data.
Based on data culled from more than 90 evidence-based studies and other scientific papers, the advisory includes recommendations, algorithms and guidance for health care professionals and researchers who specialize in heart and brain health.
Opioids commonly used for pain management may interfere with medications used to manage and treat heart disease and may therefore need to be adjusted, the committee said.
For example, morphine, used to manage pain in some heart patients, may reduce the effectiveness of drugs to prevent blood clots. The committee also called for research to focus on identifying opioid misuse in people with heart disease.
In cases of cardiac arrest, the advisory recommends the public first call 911 and start CPR before administering naloxone, an emergency drug used in an overdose.
Naloxone only is effective if opioid overdose is the cause of the cardiac arrest, the committee said, and laypeople may not be able to identify if an overdose has occurred.
Federal, state and local health and law enforcement agencies should take a coordinated approach to opioid management, the committee advised.
It also called for employer-based programs to support treatment for addiction and the expansion of free syringe exchange programs to reduce needle sharing for intravenous drug use, which can cause a serious infection of the heart lining.
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The study is published in Circulation. One author of the study is Sheryl Chow.
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