A new study shows that people who self-reported regular use of prescription drugs for pain and sleep had a 95% increased risk of frailty compared to those who did not report regular use of these drugs.
People who regularly used prescription drugs for only pain had a 58% increased risk, while those who used them for sleep only had a 35% increased risk, according to researchers from the Oregon Research Institute (ORI) and Florida Atlantic University (FAU).
The possible implications of the research findings are especially serious given that it is common for older Americans to use two or more prescription drugs at the same time — and many of these prescription drugs are for pain and sleep, including analgesics and sedatives, the researchers warned.
“Co-use of multiple prescription medications is a growing phenomenon, especially among older adults,” said Juyoung Park, Ph.D., an associate professor at FAU. “Geriatric medicine societies, including the American Geriatric Society, have developed guidelines to help prescribers avoid potentially inappropriate prescribing or PIP, which requires assessment of several types of PIP, including the benefits and risks associated with certain drug classes.”
For the study, researchers analyzed data from the Health & Retirement Study (HRS), a nationally representative longitudinal cohort of older Americans. For their analysis, they selected a large cohort of 7,201 non-frail older adults between the ages of 64 and 104, with a median age of 72. Analyses were adjusted for demographics and other drug use, researchers noted. The link between prescription drug use and frailty was discovered after eight years of follow-up.
“Our study shows that regular self-reported use and co-use of prescription drugs for pain and for sleep are significantly associated with increased incidence of frailty,” said Andrew Bergen, Ph.D., a senior scientist at ORI. “We recommend further research to estimate the frailty risk of pain and sleep measures and of prescription pain and sleep drugs.”
The study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society.
Source: Oregon Research Institute