Prolonged opiate intake increases chances of mortality from cardio-respiratory diseases.
US – Prolonged consumption based on opium drugs, often prescribed as painkillers, can severely harm the health due to the development of health complications particularly cardiovascular disease, according to a study published in the journal JAMA.
A team of scientists from the School of Medicine at Vanderbilt University in Nashville studied the long term effects of treatment with opioids for patients with chronic diseases.
Prolonged opiate intake increases the chances of death from cardio-respiratory diseases, as well as increasing the risk of unintentional overdose, which can lead to death, according to the study.
Tennessee researchers, led by Dr. Wayne A. Ray, conducted a comparative analysis over 13 years between 1999 and 2012 with patients suffering from chronic diseases, excluding cancer patients undergoing palliative treatment.
To do this, they studied two groups of patients, one that received treatment based on opiate and another group that followed an alternative treatment; analgesics or anticonvulsants with low doses of cyclic antidepressants.
The group subjected to the treatment of opiate recorded 185 deaths in 176 days, whereas those treated with analgesics and antidepressants had 87 deaths recorded in 170 days.
In comparison, mortality was 1.6 times higher when patients were under treatment opiates.
Two thirds of the deaths were caused by other than unintentional overdose reasons and in half of cases were due to cardiovascular problems.
The deaths were concentrated in patients with more than 180 days under opioid treatment at doses of 60 milligrams or even lower doses of morphine equivalent drugs.
“These findings should be taken into consideration when assessing damages and benefits of a treatment,” the study authors concluded.