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Adverse cardiac events associated with incident opioid drug use among older adults with COPD

Vozoris NT, Wang X, Austin PC, Lee DS, Stephenson AL, O'Donnell DE, Gill SS, Rochon PA. Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2017; 73(10):1287-95. Epub 2017 Jun 29.

Purpose — We evaluated whether incident opioid drug use was associated with adverse cardiac events among older adults with chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD).

Methods — This was an exploratory, retrospective cohort study using health administrative data from Ontario, Canada, from 2008-2013. Using a validated algorithm, we identified adults aged 66 years and older with non-palliative COPD. Hazard ratios (HR) were estimated for adverse cardiac events within 30 days of incident opioid receipt compared to controls using inverse probability of treatment weighting using the propensity score.

Results — 134,408 community-dwelling individuals and 14,685 long-term care residents with COPD were identified, 67.0% and 60.6% of whom received an incident opioid. Incident use of any opioid was associated with significantly decreased rates of emergency room (ER) visits and hospitalizations for congestive heart failure (CHF) among community-dwelling older adults (HR 0.84; 95% CI 0.73-0.97), but significantly increased rates of ischemic heart disease (IHD)-related mortality among long-term care residents (HR 2.15; 95% CI 1.50-3.09). In the community dwelling group, users of more potent opioid-only agents without aspirin or acetaminophen combined had significantly increased rates of ER visits and hospitalizations for IHD (HR 1.38; 95% CI 1.08-1.77) and IHD-related mortality (HR 1.83; 95% CI 1.32-2.53).

Conclusions — New opioid use was associated with elevated rates of IHD-related morbidity and mortality among older adults with COPD. Adverse cardiac events may need to be considered when administering new opioids to older adults with COPD, but further studies are required to establish if the observed associations are causal or related to residual confounding.

Keywords: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease Cardiovascular diseases Opioids