Lead: Association of regular opioid use with incident dementia and neuroimaging markers of brain health in chronic pain patients

This Week in Addiction Medicine from ASAM

Apr 30 2024 • 5 mins

Association of regular opioid use with incident dementia and neuroimaging markers of brain health in chronic pain patients: analysis of UK Biobank

The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry

In this cohort study, researchers examine the association between regular opioid use in patients with chronic pain and development of dementia over 15 years of follow-up. Regular opioid use versus non-opioid analgesic use in this population was associated with increased risk of incident dementia (HR=1.18 CL,1.08-1.30). In addition, there appeared a dose-dependent response with those receiving more prescriptions being more likely to develop dementia: 1-5 prescriptions OR=1.21, 6-20 prescriptions OR=1.27, and >20 prescriptions OR=1.43. Finally, in brain imaging, those with regular opioid use exhibited lower total gray matter and higher white matter hyperintensities. While additional research may be needed to support causality, the authors suggest these findings support caution in regular use of opioids for chronic pain.

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