opioids increase risk of falling and of dying from your injury

More and more people are being prescribed opioids for pain management. But there are man downsides to taking them, including, it turns out, falling down.

Between 2001 and 2010 the number of people who got a prescription for an opioid painkiller during an emergency department visit went up by 49%. Nearly one in three patients got one. But there are many problems with opioids, including that they don’t work any better than supposedly weaker painkillers.

And, now the news is getting even worse. They can make you fall, which can increase the risk of death for older people.

This Canadian study included 67,929 people who were all 65 or older. The average age was 81. The study found that people who had filled an opioid prescription 2 weeks before being admitted to emergency were 2.4 times more likely to have fallen than other people in the ER.

Even scarier is that for people who had injured themselves by falling, the ones who had taken opioids were 58% more likely to die while in the hospital.

The scary conclusion of the study is that elderly people who take opioids are more likely to injure themselves falling and are more likely to die of those injuries.

CMAJ 2018;190(16):E500-E506

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