After hospitalization for heart disease: Avoid opioid drugs?

Research we're watching

People with heart disease who leave the hospital with a prescription for opioids may be more likely to miss follow-up care than those not prescribed opioids, a new study finds.

The study included nearly 2,500 people (mostly white men with an average age of 60) who were discharged from a university medical center after a heart attack or sudden heart failure. One in five were prescribed the powerful pain relievers known as opioids. Those people were less likely to follow up with their health care provider or to participate in cardiac rehabilitation than those not prescribed opioids.

The study authors, who reported their findings in the February 5 Journal of the American Heart Association, speculated that diminished physical and mental functioning — known effects of opioids — may have contributed to the observed findings. But other factors, such as the characteristics of the patients who were prescribed opioids and not the opioids themselves, also may have played a role.

Image: © Darwin Brandis/Getty Images

Disclaimer:
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.