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Persistent Use of Opioids in Older People Adversely Affects Cognitive Function, Study Reveals

A study revealed that persistent use of opioids for pain management in older people may adversely affect their cognitive function.

Photo: Opioids | InStyleHealth

The research included 2,222 participants aged 65 – 69 years at baseline from the prospective Personality and Total Health Through Life Study in Australia. Their medication data were generated from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

The exposure to opioids was expressed as Total Morphine Equivalent Dose (MED). The group underwent a neuropsychological battery evaluation to examine cognition. Experts employed the generalized linear models to estimate the correlation between change in cognitive function between wave 2 and wave 3 and cumulative opioid usage.

Findings revealed that the opioids had a negative effect on cognitive function. Particularly, cumulative exposure exceeding total MED of 2,940 associated with poorer performance in the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE).

Comparing it with those who never used the drugs, persons exposed to opioids resulting in cumulative total MED of >2,940 had poorer scores in the MMSE.

Opioid use had no impact on performance in other cognitive assessments.

Results urge the need for alternative or other pain management strategies in seniors, emphasizing that the options should not negatively affect healthy ageing trajectories and cognitive health.

For complete details of the clinical study, click here.


Source: Age Ageing 2021;doi:10.1093/ageing/afab048

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