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Pain patients at risk for sleep apnea
Date:9/6/2007

investigators comment that the absence of crescendo-decrescendo breath size commonly associated with central sleep apnea suggests that the central sleep apnea mechanism is different for people taking opioids than the general public. They suggest it could be related to the direct effects of opioids on the part of the brain that controls respiration.

The authors also note that if opioid medications increase sleep apnea risk as their research suggests, then chronic pain patients who are prescribed opioids have a higher risk of morbidity and mortality.

The challenge is to monitor and adjust medications for maximum safety, not to eliminate them at the expense of pain management, Dr. Webster concludes.

The recent flurry of news reports of deaths associated with methadone use, and the synergy of opioids and benzodiazepines in causing respiratory depression, highlight the importance of Dr. Websters research. Clearly we need more studies of these mechanisms as well as ways of identifying those at risk. Doctors and patients who are considering opioid medication for pain control, must balance this risk against the potential for improved quality of life, comments Rollin M. Gallagher, MD, Editor-in-Chief of Pain Medicine.


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Contact: Amy Jenkins
Amy@jenkinspr.com
312-836-0613
American Academy of Pain Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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