Long-term use of pain pills could be dangerous

Elderly should avoid long-term use of aspirin and ibuprofen, experts say

Last week, an expert panel for the American Geriatrics Society took all non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDS, off a list of medications recommended for adults aged 75 or older with chronic pain. Indeed, long-term use of drugs like ibuprofen, naproxen and high-dose aspirin can be so dangerous that the elderly people should instead opt for acetaminophen, or even opiates (like codeine and morphine), despite the fact the latter can be addictive, reports the New York Times. The risks from chronic use of NSAIDS can include life-threatening ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding; heart attack or stroke; and interactions with other drugs, including those to treat heart failure. They can also worsen high blood pressure and impair kidney function. Yet chronic pain affects up to 50 per cent of elderly people, and up to 85 per cent of nursing home residents. Left untreated, it can disrupt sleep, upset mood, restrict mobility, and lead to other complications. “We hate to throw the baby out with the bathwater—[NSAIDS] do work for some people — but it is fairly high risk when these drugs are given in moderate to high doses, especially if given over time,” Dr. Bruce Ferrell, who chaired the panel, told the newspaper.

The New York Times

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