A recent study published in the Journal of Pain raises concerns about prescribed opioids, indicating a potential link to cardiovascular disease. The research, led by Minhee Sung, MD, emphasizes that beyond the known dangers of opioid addiction, there may be unforeseen risks, particularly for those with chronic pain.
Hidden Dangers Uncovered
Researchers uncover potential cardiovascular consequences of prescribed opioids. A study analyzing data from the Veterans Aging Cohort reveals a significant association between prescribed opioids and the later development of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in approximately 50,000 patients. Higher doses were also found to elevate the risk.
Chronic pain, affecting over 50 million Americans, often leads to opioid prescriptions, raising concerns for an age group (65 and older) already at an increased risk of heart issues.
As opioid dangers extend beyond addiction, clinicians are urged to approach chronic pain treatment cautiously, considering the potential cardiovascular risks associated with prescribed opioids.
Caution in Pain Management
The study recommends careful consideration in treating chronic pain, balancing opioid risks with the limited availability of alternative pain management options. Awareness of opioid dangers should guide clinicians in addressing chronic pain, emphasizing the need for caution. Abruptly discontinuing opioids can lead to psychological stress and an increased risk of suicide.
Patients at higher risk for cardiovascular disease, especially those over 65, are advised to discuss pain management plans with their providers, exploring alternative options like physical therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy.
Sung highlights the importance of ongoing research to understand the mechanisms driving cardiovascular risks related to prescribed opioids, aiming for a more comprehensive understanding of their impact.