In Dementia Patients, New Opioid Use Increases Death Risk By An 11-Fold

22 Jul 2023 • New research has revealed that older adults who start using opioid painkillers after being diagnosed with dementia face a significantly higher risk of death. The research was presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference 2023 in Amsterdam.

Within the first two weeks of opioid initiation, the risk of death was about 11 times higher compared to those not using opioids. The risk remained elevated beyond two weeks, with a doubled death risk within 90 days of opioid use.

The study included all Danes diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease over a 10-year period and found that one-third of patients who started taking opioids died within 180 days, while only 6% of the non-opioid group died during that time.

Fentanyl patches, in particular, were associated with a much higher risk of death within the first 180 days. Even after adjusting for differences between groups, the researchers found a fourfold increased excess death risk associated with opioids in the first six months, with stronger opioids like morphine and oxycodone posing a sixfold increased risk of death.

These findings highlight the need for doctors to carefully consider the risks versus benefits of opioid use in elderly patients with dementia.

Source: US News | Read full story

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