BP takes a long hard look at INFECTIVE ENDOCARDITIS, a potentially life-threatening infection of the heart valve. Mainly caused by bacteria entering the skin through injecting, IE can be extremely unpleasant and has a nasty habit of ironing you out completely if left untreated. Know the signs & symptoms.
Although relatively uncommon in comparison to most health problems intravenous drug users encounter, it is extremely important for us to be aware of infective endocarditis (IE) for several reasons:
First of all, Infective Endocarditis has a high mortality rate, and almost always kills the patient if left untreated;
Secondly, it is often preventable. Knowledge of the symptoms of IE, early diagnosis and correct management are what makes all the difference to your recovery.
And thirdly, a hygienic injecting regime is crucial when avoiding the types of bacteria that cause endocarditis.
In most cases, these organisms are streptococci (“strep”), staphylococci (“staph”) or members of other species of bacteria that normally live on body surfaces, entering the bloodstream through a break in the skin, as happens through injecting,
What is it?
Explaining what endocarditis is requires a little translation of the name; endo- means inside, -card- refers to the heart (like ‘cardiac’) and the -itis bit signifies a process of inflammation. Combining all three gives you an inflammation of the inside of the heart, usually caused by an infection, but occasionally by a fungus.
To read the rest of the article (which appeared in Black Poppy Issue 8) click here