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naloxone, opioid addiction, coronary heart disease, hypertension, opioid overdose, opioid withdrawal, opioid use, stroke, arterial stiffness, vascular aging







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The prevalence of opioid use in the current opioid epidemic era has led to a public health emergency due to the ties to mortality and morbidity. Studies have investigated opioids’ impacts on different aspects of cardiovascular health, although there seems to be a lack of a current concise review. Therefore, the aim of this literature review is to provide a summary of the most recent studies from the past decade that postulate a connection between opioids and their impact on cardiovascular health while highlighting conflicting areas among published research. For this literature review, three databases, PubMed (NLM), EMBASE, and Web of Science (Core Collection), were searched for full peer-reviewed articles written in English about human subjects and published between 2013 and 2023 inclusive. The following initial approach was to search for terms in the title of articles: “opioid AND (“vascular” OR “artery” OR “vein” OR “heart rate” OR “infarct” OR “stroke” OR “aortic” OR “cardiovascular disease”). After assessing for duplicate articles from the three databases, the remaining articles were assessed for inclusion eligibility. In the present review, a brief description of the overall role of opioid receptors is provided followed by the literature findings. These findings indicate potentially important negative impacts of opioid use on cardiovascular health in a number of areas. These include opioid-associated increases in the following: (1) vascular aging based on demonstrated increases in arterial stiffness, (2) opioid-related reductions in heart rate variability (HRV) and its implications on morbidity and mortality, (3) opioid’s impacts on coronary artery and coronary heart disease (CHD), (4) opioids as a risk factor for atrial fibrillation (AF) and (5) opioid use as a risk factor for vascular occlusion processes. In addition to these broad cardiovascular effects, other aspects of concern are related to the potential impacts of withdrawal from opioid use, which, when done rapidly, are associated with increases in blood pressure and a decrease in HRV.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.



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