Can opiates cause high blood pressure?
Many drugs do cause high blood pressure. Cocaine, amphetamine, and meth are some well known drugs that can raise blood pressure and put a strain on the heart. MDMA, also known as Molly or Ecstasy, is a stimulant as well, often causing serious heart-related problems for people who take it and go to all-night dance parties. There are also many designer drugs on the streets that can dangerously raise blood pressure.
While these drugs are not as deadly to healthy, young people, they are much more dangerous to older drug users. When someone who used one of these stimulants during their youth has a relapse and returns to their old drug use habits, they may be in for a surprise when they try to get high and get crushing chest pain instead.
There are also many other drugs that can raise blood pressure. Hallucinogenic drugs, such as psilocybin, peyote, and LSD are known to raise blood pressure and heart rate. While the cardiovascular effect may not be as dramatic as with a stimulant, it is still important to consider the possibility that a person with an underlying heart condition could have a problem with one of these drugs.
Opiates and blood pressure: do they raise or lower it?
When it comes to opiates and opioids, these drugs have an opposite effect on the body. These drugs are sedatives that generally relax the body. The danger is not that blood pressure and heart rate will go through the roof, causing a heart attack or stroke. If you take too much of an opiate, such as heroin, the greater risk is that your breathing will slow and even stop, leading to respiratory depression.
Do opioids raise blood pressure ever, or do they only lower blood pressure? While opioids are generally relaxing and sedating, when a person stops taking them, they will typically go into a withdrawal state that will likely involve elevated blood pressure and elevated heart rate. So, in a sense, opioids do raise blood pressure, as a side effect of withdrawing the opioid drug.
What heart risks come with opioid use? Do opioids affect heart rate?
If you are taking prescribed opioids for acute or chronic pain, you would not expect your medication to affect your heart or give you a fast heart rate. Prescription opioids do have side effects and risks, including constipation, sedation, and respiratory depression. However, they do not typically strain the cardiovascular system.
However, there is a specific situation where opioid or opiate use can lead to a fast heart rate. This risk is related to intravenous use of these drugs. While you may think mostly of heroin and fentanyl when you think of IV opioid use, there are people who also shoot up oxycodone tablets. They also shoot up Dilaudid and other prescription opioid pills.
In fact, in British Columbia, Canada, there are areas where they have biometric Dilaudid dispensing machines on the streets. Patients who have been approved may activate the machine and receive Dilaudid tablets. The purpose of these Dilaudid pills is for the user to crush them, liquefy them and shoot them into a vein.
Why should governments allow for clean drug paraphernalia, including needles and syringes?
Canadian authorities also provide drug users with safe, clean syringes and needles. In some areas, they even have modern facilities for supervised street drug use. You may think that the government of BC, Canada is irresponsible in giving their citizens drugs, paraphernalia, and a safe place to get high.
Yet, there is a good reason for providing these services to people who are addicted opioids. It is known as harm reduction. Harm reduction is supporting the health and safety of a person who is struggling with addiction but not ready yet to give up drugs.
By providing harm reduction services, authorities are acknowledging the facts of the condition of addiction. Addiction cannot be easily reasoned with. Sometimes, a person needs time to come around and be ready to ask for help in quitting drugs.
Opioid use can lead to permanent heart damage.
When a person buys opioid tablets on the streets and shoots them up with a dirty needle and syringe or in an unclean setting, there are serious risks involved. It is possible that bacteria will be introduced into the blood stream.
If an IV opioid drug user notices that they are having a fast heart rate, fatigue, and a fever, they may have developed a heart valve infection, known as endocarditis. Endocarditis can lead to serious heart damage and death. Often, victims of endocarditis will have to get heart valve surgery.
So, while opiates and opioids do not typically cause an increase in heart rate, an infection of the heart, caused by IV drug use, may cause this symptom. Of course, there are other infection risks, including HIV and hepatitis C.
Do opiates lower blood pressure?
If you take an opiate and then check your blood pressure, you may notice that your pressure is lower than normal. Opiates can lower blood pressure and slow down your heart rate. Additionally, as stated above, opiates slow down your breathing rate as well.
When it comes to opiates and blood pressure, the main concern is hypotension, which is low blood pressure. If someone’s blood pressure goes low enough, they may go into shock. Their heart will not be able to pump effectively enough to deliver oxygen to the vital organs. This can lead to damage to the heart, brain, and other organs.
Is it possible that, with the relationship of opiates and blood pressure, that opiates could be used to manage blood pressure for patients who have a problem with hypertension, or high blood pressure? Currently, there are many types of blood pressure-lowering medications. There are anti-hypertensive drugs which have been on the market for decades and have been proven to be safe and effective.
The risks of taking opioids would outweigh any benefit in lowering blood pressure for a person who only required a blood pressure-lowering drug. However, it is still worthwhile for scientists to continue research into how and why opiates lower blood pressure to see if they can discover other, more effective ways to manage blood pressure and heart conditions.
Can opioids cause heart failure?
Heart failure is a term to generally describe conditions where the heart is not pumping blood efficiently. The condition could be the result of damage to the heart muscle, so it is not strong enough to pump blood adequately to meet the demands of the body. Or, the effects of a drug could reduce the overall effectiveness of the cardiovascular system.
Because opioids are able to lower blood pressure and also reduce the force of contraction of heart muscle, there is the possibility of opioids causing heart failure. It is possible that opiates and opioids have lead to an epidemic of opioid-induced heart failure due to rampant use of these drugs during the current opioid crisis.
Can opioids cause cardiac arrhythmias?
Additionally, opioids can affect the QT interval, which is a finding that is measured with an electrocardiogram. Methadone is particularly known for prolonging the QT interval. The result can be an increased risk for dangerous heart arrhythmias that are potentially life-threatening.
While heart failure induced by excessive opioid use may be reversible, if a patient overdoses and is hypoxic for an extended period of time, irreversible heart damage could occur. Endocarditis leading to bacterial vegetative growth on heart valves can also put a strain on the heart, leading to heart failure.
There are different stages of heart failure, based on symptoms and the ability for the patient to function. At the mildest level, heart failure has minimal effects on a person’s lifestyle. At it’s worst, shortness of breath and fatigue are so bad that the patient is unable to get out of bed. Early signs of heart failure include fatigue, weakness, swelling of the ankles and feet, shortness of breath, and cough.
Can opiates cause high blood pressure if they are purchased on the street?
More than ever, buying heroin, or any kind of powder or pill, on the streets involves a life-threatening risk. You never know what you are getting. Cocaine and methamphetamine are tainted with fentanyl and other synthetic opioid-analogs. Heroin contains fentanyl, or more often now, is completely replaced by fentanyl.
It is even possible that heroin or fentanyl may be tainted with methamphetamine, or methcathinone, or one of a number of synthetic stimulants. Drug dealers may add speed to heroin, thinking it will reduce the risk of users nodding off and overdosing.
Clandestine drug labs are now adding a variety of exotic designer synthetic drugs to heroin.
While adding synthetic designer stimulants to heroin or fentanyl will not protect anyone from opioid overdose, these drugs may put a strain on the heart. In this case, heroin may cause the blood pressure and heart rate to go up dramatically, because of the added speed.
A person who shoots up heroin and then goes to a loud rave party with lots of dancing, might think they need to stay active to stay awake. Little do they know that the added speed puts them at risk for dehydration, hyperthermia, and a possible deadly heart attack or stroke.
The point is that you never know what you are getting when you buy street drugs. Any drug may contain any other drug, and the added drugs may be synthetic designer chemicals imported from China or Mexico. These drugs may not appear on any drug test and doctors will not know what they are treating if you show up in their ER.
What form of opioid addiction treatment is best to avoid all the dangers of illicit opioid use?
If you are concerned about heroin abuse, oxycodone abuse, dilaudid abuse, or even tramadol or kratom abuse, there is medical treatment for opiate addiction. Medication-assisted treatment works best to improve outcomes for people who are ready to give up opioids and move forward with a drug free life.
Buprenorphine was approved in the year 2000 for use in treating opioid use disorder. The medication has been around for much longer, before the 2000 law went into effect. Buprenorphine is a well understood prescription drug that is known to be relatively safe and effective.
Unfortunately, buprenorphine is not orally active. It would have saved a lot of trouble in prescribing buprenorphine based medications, such as Suboxone, if a tablet or liquid form could be simply swallowed.
Buprenorphine can be taken under the tongue or injected under the skin.
Since buprenorphine cannot be taken effectively by swallowing a pill, it must be dissolved under the tongue, or taken by sublingual route. There are several sublingual medications that contain buprenorphine. There is Subutex, Suboxone, ZubSolv, and a variety of generic tablets and sublingual films.
Other alternatives include weekly and monthly shots. Sublocade is a monthly subcutaneous injectable buprenorphine. It is injected just under the skin of the abdomen. When the liquid injection enters the tissues beneath the skin, it solidifies and becomes a sort of implant, gradually releasing buprenorphine at a steady rate throughout the month. Eventually, the solid material created from the injection is absorbed into the body.
Monthly injections and twice yearly implants are also available.
Brixadi is a new injectable buprenorphine that will be coming out soon. It can be used weekly or monthly. Another advantage over Sublocade is that it does not have to be refrigerated. It also is available in more strengths than Sublocade.
The company that makes Brixadi also developed a six-month buprenorphine implant named Probuphine. Doctors must get a special certification from the company to demonstrate that they are competent to surgically place the implant in the patient’s arm and then remove it six months later.
As you can see, buprenorphine allows for much greater flexibility compared to going to a daily methadone clinic. Patients who take buprenorphine, most often known by the common brand name, Suboxone, function well in life, most often without any issues with side effects.
Suboxone medication-assisted treatment works and allows patients to get back to home life and work.
Unlike typical opioids, Suboxone patients do not usually suffer from clouded thinking, constant fatigue, and relentless obsession with taking their next dose. In many cases, patients who take Suboxone function normally in life and feel as if they are not taking medication at all.
In fact, many describe the feeling as if they were never addicted to opioids in the first place. Of course, it is important to follow through with treatment for an adequate amount of time. In most cases, one to two years minimum is recommended.
So, if you are concerned about issues with your heart and potential damage that might be caused by drug use from powdered street drugs that are snorted or injected, you should consider medical treatment. Making an appointment with your doctor today is the best first step in learning more about this revolutionary treatment for opioid addiction. Additionally, if you are concerned about issues that might involve your blood pressure, heart, or other organ systems in your body, your doctor can perform routine testing to reassure you and help you to make plans for improving your overall health.