What risks do opioids pose on heart health?

In the short run, the risk that opioids pose on heart health is relatively minor. The abuse of opioids with other types of medications increases that risk. 

Opioids alone cause vasodilation of the arteries, which can lead to a slow heart rate, called bradycardia, and a drop in blood pressure. This can cause people to pass out, and over time in certain people it can cause fluid retention, pulmonary edema or even congestive heart failure. These risks are increased when people use opioids with other medications or drugs of abuse. For example, sometimes people are prescribed benzodiazepines like Xanax or Valium for anxiety. The combination can lower heart function, causing heart failure. Some people use alcohol, which will potentiate the effects of these types of drugs. It's the mixing of multiple drugs, or using cocaine on top, that leads to problems with these drugs of abuse. 

When opioids are used illegally a lot of times people crush up the pills to get a quicker high by snorting or even injecting it. When these drugs are injected they tend to clump and can cause acute blockages of arteries, causing stroke and heart attacks.

Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.