BANGOR – As the opioid and heroin epidemic gets worse, doctors at Eastern Maine Medical Center are finding a rise in a heart disease-related surgery. Could the two be linked? We want to warn this story could be a trigger for some.
Like most of the country, Maine suffers from the nation-wide drug crisis. A report done by the Margaret Chase Smith policy center at the University of Maine–it shows in 2016 there were more than 370 drug-induced deaths statewide. Over 60 percent of those deaths were from heroin and fentanyl use
Jon Delena, Assistant Special Agent DEA stated “We see more and more Mainers driving down to Massachusetts to pick up their drugs and we know that a majority of what’s coming out of there is fenantyl.”
Hospitals in Maine have seen an increase in endocarditis, an infection that’s in the heart’s structure, usually the valve. Dr. john Klemperer, Cario Thoracic Surgeon, said it can be caused by using intravenous drugs. He added “10-15 years ago we did a handful of cases a year, now it’s uncommon if we’re not doing a case every single month. “
He also said in most cases patients use antibiotics but if it’s if it’s not caught, it can lead to surgery. The increase of these procedures could be linked to the opioid epidemic.
Dr. Klemperer, also said “Repeated injection of intravenous drugs will cause on-going of repeated episodes of blood contamination and definitely is a major associated risk-factor.”
Dr. Klemperer stated if a patient doesn’t stop using, it could lead to another infection, and an even harder operation. He said “We can fix the can fix the problem with the heart valves itself, but the underlying illness is the drug addiction.”
How does the state combat this,and where do we go from here?
Agent Delena said Wwe need to start having conversations with our kids younger than ever before, and they have to start at home.”
You can also help by getting rid of your unused prescriptions, drug-take back day is on April 29th.