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Association of prescription opioids and incident cardiovascular risk factors among post-9/11 Veterans.

Chui PW, Gordon KS, Dziura J, Burg MM, Brandt CA, Sico JJ, Leapman MS, Cavanagh CE, Rosman L, Haskell S, Becker WC, Bastian LA. Association of prescription opioids and incident cardiovascular risk factors among post-9/11 Veterans. Preventive medicine. 2020 May 1; 134:106036.

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Reports indicate that long-term opioid therapy is associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD). Using VA electronic health record data, we measured the impact of opioid use on the incidence of modifiable CVD risk factors. We included Veterans whose encounter was between October 2001 to November 2014. We identified Veterans without CVD risk factors during our baseline period, defined as the date of first primary care visit plus 365 days. The main exposure was opioid prescriptions (yes/no, long-term (i.e. = 90 days) vs no opioid, and long-term vs short-term (i.e. < 90 days)), which was time-updated yearly from the end of the baseline period to February 2015. The main outcome measures were incident CVD risk factors (hypertension, dyslipidemia, diabetes, obesity, and current smoking). After excluding prevalent CVD risk factors, we identified 308,015 Veterans. During the first year of observation, 12,725 (4.1%) Veterans were prescribed opioids, including 2028 (0.6%) with long-term exposure. Compared to patients without opioid use, Veterans with opioid use were more likely to have CVD risk factors. Those with long-term exposure were at higher risk of having hypertension (adjusted average hazards ratio [HR] 1.45, 99% confidence interval [CI] 1.33-1.59), dyslipidemia (HR 1.45, 99% CI 1.35-156), diabetes (HR 1.30, 99% CI 1.07-1.57), current smoking status (HR 1.34, 99% CI 1.24-1.46), and obesity (HR 1.22, 99% CI 1.12-1.32). Compared to short-term exposure, long-term had higher risk of current smoking status (HR 1.12, 99% CI 1.01-1.24). These findings suggest potential benefit to screening and surveillance of CVD risk factors for patients prescribed opioids, especially long-term opioid therapy.

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