Medical Cannabis Risky for Older Patients with COPD – Pain News Network

By Pat Anson, PNN Editor

While many senior citizens are discovering the benefits of medical cannabis in relieving pain and other health problems, a large new study suggests caution is warranted for those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto say older adults with COPD who take prescription drugs made with synthetic cannabinoids were 64% more likely to die. The odds are even worse for elderly patients with COPD who take high-dose cannabinoids for the first time. New users had a 178% higher risk of being hospitalized for COPD or pneumonia and a 231% increased risk of death.

“Cannabinoid drugs are being increasingly used by older adults with COPD, so it is important for patients and physicians to have a clear understanding of the side-effect profile of these drugs,” says lead author Nicholas Vozoris, MD, a respiratory specialist at St. Michael’s and assistant professor at the University of Toronto.

“Our study results do not mean that cannabinoid drugs should be never used among older adults with COPD. Rather, our findings should be incorporated by patients and physicians into prescribing decision-making. Our results also highlight the importance of favouring lower over higher cannabinoid doses, when these drugs actually do need to be used.”

The study analyzed the health data of over 4,000 older adults diagnosed with COPD who took either nabilone