Medical experts and health professionals are raising concerns about opioid use among older and elderly patients who have breathing problems and a condition called COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. These concerns have led to a new study on the subject, and the study results were recently published in the British Journal of Pharmacology. COPD is a condition that is chronic and becomes progressively worse as time goes by. People who have COPD often have difficulty breathing. St. Michael’s Hospital respirologist Dr. Nicholas Vozoris “The new use of opioids was remarkably high among adults with COPD living in the community. The amount of opioid use is concerning given this is an older population, and older adults are more sensitive to narcotic side effects. This is a population that has chronic lung disease, and this drug class may also adversely affect breathing and lung health in people who already have chronically compromised lungs.”
According to Dr Vozoris opioid use with patients who have COPD and breathing problems should eb done with extreme caution. Vozoris explained “Sometimes patients are looking for what they think are quick fixes to chronic pain and chronic breathing problems. And physicians sometimes believe that narcotics may be a quick fix to COPD symptoms. Patients and prescribers should reflect on the way narcotics are being used in this older and respiratory-vulnerable population. They should be more careful about when narcotics are used and how they’re being used.” The study involved the medical records of over 120,000 adult patients in Ontario who were at least 66 years old an who had COPD.