Is Methadone Bad for Your Heart?

Methadone is a safe medication for opioid addiction treatment that can be taken in the long-term. Many individuals stay maintained on the drug for months or years without experiencing serious issues. However, there are some possible side effects associated with the drug, though they are rare.

Methadone and Heart Health

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Long-term use of methadone [is] medically safe and is well tolerated by patients.” The drug is not toxic to any organ system and has been proven to be safe and effective after treatment lasting 10 to 14 years in adults and 5 to 7 years in adolescent patients. Most of the side effects experienced by those on methadone are mild and can be treated with other medications or minimized by tweaking the individual’s methadone dosage.

The drug itself is not known for causing heart problems due to its long-term use. There is, though, a possible health issue associated with methadone in some patients called a prolonged QT interval. This is a rare problem and a rare occurrence in methadone users. As stated by the National Library of Medicine, it can cause “irregular heartbeat, fainting, or sudden death.” Therefore, though this issue is rare, the possibility of its occurrence should be brought to the attention of the patient and the physician must be prepared to look for it.

What Should I Know About Prolonged QT Intervals?

Bad for Your Heart

In rare cases, methadone use can lead to a prolonged QT interval.

It is important to know that, while this issue can be very serious and can even become deadly, most people do not experience it, and those who do are not in danger of it from long-term methadone use specifically. As a patient, it is important to tell your doctor if you or anyone in your family has ever had long QT syndrome or heart problems in general such as irregular heartbeat, low blood levels of potassium or magnesium, or heart disease.

You should also tell your doctor if you are currently taking any of these medications:

  • Antidepressants
  • Antifungals
  • Diuretics
  • Medications meant to treat irregular heartbeat
  • Erythromycin
  • Fludrocortisone
  • Laxatives
  • Nicardipine
  • Sertaline
  • Resperidone

If you are taking one of these medications, it could possibly interact poorly with the methadone, creating a prolonged QT interval. Even if you have no specific risks for this condition, call your doctor immediately if you are on methadone maintenance and you experience a pounding heartbeat, dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting.

Is Methadone Bad for Your Heart?

Most people take the drug with no problems aside from a few mild side effects. Methadone isn’t typically bad for any organ system in the body, but it is important to be aware of the possibility of this rare issue occurring. The drug can be dangerous if misused, which is why anyone on methadone maintenance should regularly speak to their doctor about their medication and always stick to their prescription.

If you want to learn more about methadone maintenance and its effects or find a clinic in your area, call 800-891-9360.

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