Prescription Opioids May Diminish Cognitive Function

A Mayo Clinic study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that each prescription of an opioid received by the observed population over a seven-and-a-half-year period could be linked to a decline in cognitive performance, mainly in memory, language, and attention. They emphasized this was only a correlation, not evidence of causation. A pain medicine physician, Dr. Nafisseh Warner, said the results are important to consider in shared decision-making between patients and health care providers when choosing pain management strategies. Statistics have shown that more than half of people 65 and older experience pain on most days. Researchers suggested the study results could spur development of more effective pain management that mitigates negative impacts of opioids. Dr. Warner added it is crucial to consider all of the patient’s health, life goals, and care preferences when making a treatment decision, and it is also important to optimize other factors such as sleep, exercise and socialization that can protect against cognitive decline.

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