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Use of Pain, Sleep Drugs Ups Risk of Frailty in the Elderly

Findings show 95 percent increased frailty risk for co-use of sleep, pain drugs

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 11, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Prescription pain and sleep drug use is significantly associated with increased incidence of frailty, according to a study published in the December issue of the Journal of the American Geriatric Society.

Gulcan Cil, Ph.D., from the Oregon Research Institute in Eugene, and colleagues estimated incident frailty risks from prescription drugs for pain and for sleep in 14,208 community-dwelling older U.S. adults not being treated for cancer.

The researchers found that rates of prescription drug use were 22.1 percent for pain only, 6.8 percent for sleep only, and 7.7 percent for both indications. There was significant variance observed in the burden frailty model by drug use. At baseline, among nonfrail individuals, the proportions using prescription drugs were 14.9, 5.6, and 2.2 percent for the three indications, respectively. There was an association noted between prescription drug use and increased risk of frailty (co-use adjusted subhazard ratio [sHR], 1.95; pain only adjusted sHR, 1.58; sleep-only adjusted sHR, 1.35 versus the nonuse reference group). Over eight years, the cumulative incidences of frailty for the four groups were 60.6, 50.9, 45.8, and 34.1 percent, respectively. The investigators observed only minor risk reductions when they controlled for chronic diseases associated with persistent pain.

“We recommend systematic analysis of both pain and sleep indication and prescription drug use frailty risks before deprescribing,” the authors write.

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