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Tramadol is the generic form of the brand-name medication called Ultram. It is a prescription narcotic-like, synthetic medication used to relieve moderate to moderately severe pain. Tramadol is classified by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as a Schedule IV Substance, which is defined as “drugs with a low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence.” It belongs to the group of medications called opioid analgesics. As an opioid analgesic, tramadol binds to the opioid receptors in one’s body interfering with the communication of certain neurotransmitters as it inhibits the reuptake of norepinephrine and serotonin. It also stimulates the dopamine receptors and interferes with the release of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in the central nervous system. Tramadol essentially works by blocking pain signals from one’s central nervous system and brain to the rest of the body. As is true with any medication, there are risk factors and potential unwanted side effects that can occur when taking tramadol. The answer to the question: Is tramadol bad for your heart is variable. For some people, yes, tramadol can lead to certain heart complications, while for others it may not. 

Serious Side Effects

Tramadol can cause serious side effects that involve the heart, such as serotonin syndrome or QT prolongation. Serotonin syndrome is commonly associated with the use of antidepressants or other serotonergic medications. It occurs as the result of certain medications causing high levels of serotonin to accumulate in one’s body. An excess amount of serotonin in one’s system can cause an individual to experience symptoms that can range from mild to severe. Research has found that due to its unique effect on serotonin, “tramadol may lead to serotonin syndrome, a potentially life-threatening condition linked to hypertension, tachycardia, and cardiac arrhythmia.” QT prolongation is the medical term used to describe an extended interval between the heart contracting and relaxing. It is a serious condition that can increase an individual’s risk of experiencing irregular heartbeat (e.g., abnormal heart rhythms) and sudden cardiac arrest, which can be life-threatening. It is important to note that not all people that take tramadol will develop severe side effects.

For Information and Support 

If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding substance abuse and/ or addiction, we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long-lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment-related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-258-6792. You are also welcome to contact anytime us via email at admissions@hhtxc.com.