A 29-YEAR-OLD man died in hospital from a rare heart infection caused by intravenous drug use, an inquest found.

Stefan Cartwright, of Lindisfarne Street, Carlisle, had a ‘significant history’ of intravenous drug misuse and was known to drug and alcohol services.

He died at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle on August 30 last year.

An inquest into his death held at Cockermouth Coroners’ Court heard Mr Cartwright had complained of pain in his legs and feet to his partner on Saturday, August 26.

His partner next saw him on August 29 when he said that there had been no resolution in his symptoms. His partner left the property the following day and when he returned in the afternoon it was clear that Mr Cartwright had ‘become very unwell’.

He called an ambulance and paramedics took him to hospital, arriving in the emergency department at about 10.40pm. It was clear that Mr Cartwright was ‘critically ill’.

Resuscitation was attempted for an hour but it became apparent there was no prospect of recovery and Mr Cartwright’s death was confirmed.

A post mortem examination confirmed a diagnosis of endocarditis caused by intravenous drug use. The cause of death was given as bacterial endocarditis caused by intravenous drug use.

Margaret Taylor, assistant coroner for Cumbria, concluded that Mr Cartwright’s death was drug-related.

  • Endocarditis is a rare and potentially fatal infection of the inner lining of the heart. It is most commonly caused by bacteria entering the blood and travelling to the heart. People who inject drugs are at greater risk of developing endocarditis.
  • Without treatment, the infection damages the heart valves and disrupts the normal flow of blood through the heart. Early diagnosis and treatment is vital to improve the outlook for the condition.
  • The initial symptoms of endocarditis are similar to flu and include: a high temperature, chills, headache, and joint and muscle pain.