European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology

, Volume 73, Issue 10, pp 1287–1295 | Cite as

Adverse cardiac events associated with incident opioid drug use among older adults with COPD

  • Nicholas T. Vozoris
  • Xuesong Wang
  • Peter C. Austin
  • Douglas S. Lee
  • Anne L. Stephenson
  • Denis E. O’Donnell
  • Sudeep S. Gill
  • Paula A. Rochon
Pharmacoepidemiology and Prescription



We evaluated whether incident opioid drug use was associated with adverse cardiac events among older adults with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).


This was an exploratory, retrospective cohort study using health administrative data from Ontario, Canada, from 2008 to 2013. Using a validated algorithm, we identified adults aged 66 years and older with non-palliative COPD. 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.


There were 134,408 community-dwelling individuals and 14,685 long-term care residents with COPD identified, 67.0 and 60.6% of whom received an incident opioid. Incident use of any opioid was associated with significantly decreased rates of emergency room (ER) visits and hospitalizations for congestive heart failure (CHF) among community-dwelling older adults (HR 0.84; 95% CI 0.73–0.97), but significantly increased rates of ischemic heart disease (IHD)-related mortality among long-term care residents (HR 2.15; 95% CI 1.50–3.09). In the community-dwelling group, users of more potent opioid-only agents without aspirin or acetaminophen combined had significantly increased rates of ER visits and hospitalizations for IHD (HR 1.38; 95% CI 1.08–1.77) and IHD-related mortality (HR 1.83; 95% CI 1.32–2.53).


New opioid use was associated with elevated rates of IHD-related morbidity and mortality among older adults with COPD. 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.


Opioids COPD Cardiac Pharmacoepidemiology Drug safety 

Supplementary material

228_2017_2278_MOESM1_ESM.doc (649 kb)
ESM 1(DOC 649 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicholas T. Vozoris
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Xuesong Wang
    • 4
  • Peter C. Austin
    • 4
    • 5
  • Douglas S. Lee
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Anne L. Stephenson
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 5
  • Denis E. O’Donnell
    • 6
  • Sudeep S. Gill
    • 4
    • 6
  • Paula A. Rochon
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
    • 7
  1. 1.Division of Respirology, Department of MedicineSt. Michael’s HospitalTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Keenan Research Centre in the Li Ka Shing Knowledge InstituteSt. Michael’s HospitalTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Department of MedicineUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  4. 4.Institute for Clinical Evaluative SciencesTorontoCanada
  5. 5.Institute of Health Policy, Management and EvaluationUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  6. 6.Department of MedicineQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada
  7. 7.Women’s College Research InstituteWomen’s College HospitalTorontoCanada

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