South African Medical Journal

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Striking increase in the incidence of infective endocarditis associated with recreational drug abuse in urban South Africa

R Meel


Background. We have recently noted a dramatic rise in the number of patients with infective endocarditis (IE) related to intravenous (IV) nyaope (a mixture of heroin, cocaine and antiretroviral drugs) presenting to Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa. Objectives. To document the clinical and echocardiographic characteristics of these patients. Methods. Clinical and echocardiographic characteristics of all patients (N=68) with IE due to IV nyaope use were retrospectively extracted from hospital records (December 2014 - February 2017). Results. The mean (standard deviation) age of the patients was 25.8 (4.5) years (97.1% were male). Withdrawal symptoms were noted in 25.1% of cases, fever in 58.8%, dyspnoea in 86.7% and right ventricular failure in 42.6%. Most patients were HIV-positive (76.1%), with CD4+ cell counts of <200 cells/μL in 8.8% of the total, 58.1% had hepatitis C infection, and only three were on antiretrovirals. Septic pulmonary emboli were noted in 61.8%. Blood cultures revealed Staphylococcus aureus in 61.2%, Enterococcus faecalis in 8.8% and Pseudomonas aeruginosa in 1 patient; 29.2% had sterile cultures and 8.8% polymicrobial infection. Severe right ventricular systolic dysfunction (RVS' Doppler velocity <10 cm/s) and pulmonary hypertension were noted in 19.1% and 62.2% of patients, respectively. Pericardial effusion was noted in 37.8%. The most commonly involved valve was the tricuspid (60.1%), followed by the mitral (17.2%), aortic (2.9%) and pulmonary (1 patient) valves. Combined valve lesions were noted in 19.1% of patients. Ten patients (14.7%) died. The main predictor of in-hospital mortality was S. aureus infection (odds ratio 5.0; p=0.042). Conclusions. We have documented the common clinical and echocardiographic characteristics of patients with IE secondary to IV nyaope use. IE due to IV drug use is responsible for considerable morbidity and mortality in a predominantly young male population.

S Afr Med J 2018;108(7):585-589

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