New research suggests that opioid use could double the risk of hip fracture among patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
The study included 23,100 people community-dwelling people in Finland diagnosed with AD from the Medication use and Alzheimer’s disease (MEDALZ) cohort. A total of 4,570 new opioid users were identified from the cohort and matched with 4,570 opioid non-users.
The study found opioid use was associated with an increased risk of hip fracture (inverse probability of treatment [IPT]-weighted hazard ratio [HR] 1.96; 95% CI 1.27-3.02). The risk was elevated during the first two months of use, but was nonsignificant in longer duration of use. The study also suggested the risk of hip fracture increased with increasing opioid potency. Weak opioid use was not associated with fracture risk, whereas buprenorphine and strong opioid uses were associated with increased risk.
Presenting their findings in Pain, the authors said as older persons with AD are at increased risk of injurious falls, there are considerable challenges in treatment of moderate or severe pain. “Whether the risk of injurious falls can be avoided or reduced by slow titration of opioid doses in the beginning of treatment needs further research,” they concluded.