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They say: “Side effects of painkillers are worse in Alzheimer’s.”

July 29, 2018 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Family and Friends,Health and Wellness,News Information,Social and Cultural,USA and Global

A recent study demonstrates that pain relief drugs produce more pronounced side effects when taken by people with dementia. A second study uncovers why this might be the case.

Dementia is a large and growing concern. Because it cannot be reversed, understanding the best way to care for people with advanced dementia is increasingly important.

Roughly 50 percent of people with dementia who are living in nursing homes experience substantial pain. According to earlier studies, this pain often goes unnoticed by clinicians and is therefore poorly managed.

Although paracetamol is generally the first line of treatment for pain, opioids are used when paracetamol is not effective. In fact, around 40 percent of people with dementia living in nursing homes are prescribed opioids.

Opioids and Alzheimer’s

Recently, researchers from three institutions investigated the impact of opioids on this population. The scientists hailed from the University of Exeter and King’s College London, both in the United Kingdom, and the University of Bergen in Norway.

For their analysis, they included data from 162 Norwegian adults with advanced dementia and depression from 47 nursing homes. The findings were presented earlier this week at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2018, held in Chicago, IL.

The team found that side effects such as personality changes, sedation, and confusion were significantly worse in individuals taking opioids, compared with those taking a placebo.

In fact, those who were prescribed the opioid buprenorphine experienced three times the level of harmful side effects. Also, the patients taking buprenorphine were much less active.

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