Heart surgery patients prescribed opioids may continue their use

Heart surgery patients prescribed opioids may continue their use

A total of 8 percent of heart surgery patients who were prescribed opioids still use the drugs more than 90 days after a procedure, according to a study released by the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Researchers examined the data of 25,673 patients who underwent coronary artery bypass grafting or a heart valve repair or replacement between 2004 and 2016. The goal was to determine the proportion of patients who developed persistent opioid use after surgery and if there is a link between dosage prescribed and the risk of prolonged use.

Researchers excluded patients who had pre-operative use of alcoholism, drug use, muscle relaxants, and benzodiazepines. Those who experienced pre-operative chronic pain or were discharged to a facility after cardiac surgery also were excluded.

Approximately 53 percent of valve surgery patients and 60 percent of bypass patients filled an opioid prescription within 14 days of the surgery.

Of the cardiac surgery patients, 9.6 percent continued to fill prescriptions between three and six months after surgery.

Bypass patients continued to refill prescriptions at a rate of nearly 9 percent.

Patients with pre-existing medical conditions, women, and younger patients had a higher incidence rate than other groups, researchers found.