Millions of senior citizens are placed in nursing homes every year as a way to increase the levels of care they receive for chronic illnesses and because they can no longer care for themselves while living alone.
Even elderly men and women living in supervised nursing facilities can still be at risk of debilitating strokes, however, if they take or are given too high a dosage of certain common pain medications.
Acetaminophen is one of the most commonly used over-the-counter painkillers in the world, usually going by brand names like Tylenol. Recent studies have found acetaminophen to be one of the most common medications involved in overdoses and the most common cause of drug-induced liver failure.
For people who suffer from conditions such as diabetes, acetaminophen can pose other grave health concerns, including an increased risk of stroke. In a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, a team of researchers sought to find connections between the use of acetaminophen and deaths, heart attacks and strokes among seniors in France.
Over an 18-month period, the researchers found that of the study’s 5,429 participants — all around 86 years old and roughly three of every four were women — 3,190 were not taking acetaminophen and 2,239 were not.
While the research concluded there was no notable increase of heart attacks or death, and only a one percent increase in strokes among those who used acetaminophen, diabetic participants who took the pain medication saw a notable increase in strokes. Researchers concluded that older, frailer people should exercise greater caution when using pain relievers like acetaminophen.
COX-2 Inhibitors (Celebrex, Lodine)
Other studies conducted elsewhere in Europe found that increased use of COX-2 inhibitors used to treat arthritis — medications such as Celebrex and Lodine — have also been found to increase the likelihood of death after a stroke.
In a study published in 2014, researchers in Denmark evaluated over 100,000 patients who had been hospitalized with their first stroke between 2004-2012, and found that the use of Celebrex prior to hospitalization for ischemic stroke — a stroke caused by a clot that blocks blood flow to the brain — was associated with a 19 percent increase in risk of death within a month, compared with non-use of the drug.
Has your loved one suffered a stroke due to negligence?
With the number of elderly Americans who take acetaminophen and COX-2 drugs to treat arthritis pain in their joints, there should be greater public awareness of the dangers that overuse of these medications can pose to their health.
Sadly though, many of the people living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities today are often cared for by inexperienced or negligent staff, and the likelihood of vulnerable seniors being given too high a dosage of certain over-the-counter pain medications is far greater than many of us realize.
If you suspect a loved one has suffered a stroke as the result of over-medication, you should seek immediate medical treatment. Your next call should be to our law firm. After years of litigating cases of nursing home abuse and negligence, our firm has the experience to effectively prove liability and pursue the damages to which you are entitled. Contact us today to find out how we can help.