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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Prescription Opioids Cardiovascular Death Risk

prescription opioids
After a decade and a half long opioid epidemic, practically everyone in the United States is acutely aware that prescription opioid painkillers are both addictive and deadly. Those who use and abuse medications like OxyContin (oxycodone) are at risk of experiencing an overdose. Opioid overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S., with 47,055 fatal overdoses in 2014.

The surge in prescription opioid and heroin overdoses has resulted in the lightening of restrictions for acquiring the lifesaving opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone—commonly sold under the name Narcan. Time and time again the medication has proven to be a miracle for thousands of Americans who would have otherwise perished by way of an overdose. In most states, it is now possible to pick up naloxone without a prescription, which gives the friends and family of addicts a vital tool that can save their loved one's life.

It turns out that prescription opioid analgesics can lead to death without the occurrence of an overdose. New research suggests that prescription opioids raise one's risk of death by 64 percent, but the causes of premature death are often cardiovascular in nature, HealthDay reports. The findings are especially important due to the fact that prescription opioids are commonly doled out in spades to seniors, many of which have pre-existing heart conditions.

Prescription opioid narcotics can cause:
  • Breathing Difficulties While Asleep
  • Heart Rhythm Irregularities
  • Various Cardiovascular Complications
"We were not surprised by the increased risk for overdose deaths, which is well known," said study lead author Wayne Ray, at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. "However, the large increase in cardiovascular death risk is a novel finding. [And] it suggests being even more cautious with opioids for patients who are at high cardiovascular risk, such as those who have had a heart attack or have diabetes."

The findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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