More than 10% of patients who receive a pacemaker or other implantable cardiac device and fill an opioid prescription after surgery consistently take the medication for months afterwards, a new study finds. This raises the potential for addiction, researchers report in the journal Circulation.
Researchers evaluated data from more than 143,000 adults who received implantable heart pacemakers or defibrillators. More than 15,000 of the patients filled an opioid prescription within two weeks of the surgery, HealthDay reports. The study found persistent opioid use – defined as filling another opioid prescription one to six months after surgery – occurred in 12.4% of patients without a history of opioid use, compared with 5.4% of patients without an initial opioid prescription.
“Even a small number of oxycodones can start the addiction process,” senior author David S. Frankel, M.D., of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, said in a news release. He said that “even a low-risk procedure like a pacemaker or a defibrillator can lead to chronic opioid use and that physicians may want to be more conservative in prescribing opioids after surgery.”