New opioid use was associated with elevated rates of ischemic heart disease-related morbidity and mortality among older adults with COPD, according to a new study published in European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.

Researchers conducted an exploratory, retrospective study using data from 2008 to 2013. They identified 134,408 community-dwelling individuals and 14,685 long-term care residents with COPD (aged 66 years and older). Among this population, 67.0% of community-dwelling and 60.6% of long-term care residents received an incident opioid.

Hazard ratios (HR) were estimated for adverse cardiac events within 30 days of incident opioid receipt compared to controls using inverse probability of treatment weighting using the propensity score.

According to results, incident use of any opioid was tied to significantly decreased rates of ER visits and hospitalizations for congestive heart failure but significantly increased rates of IHD-related mortality among long-term care residents, the researchers reported.

Furthermore, users of more potent opioid-only agents without aspirin or acetaminophen combined had significantly increased rates of ER visits and hospitalizations for IHD and IHD-related mortality.

“Adverse cardiac events may need to be considered when administering new opioids to older adults with COPD, but further studies are required to establish if the observed associations are causal or related to residual confounding,” the writers concluded.