Association of Medication-Assisted Therapy with New Onset of Cardiac Arrhythmia in Patients Diagnosed with Opioid Use Disorders

Mukaila A. Raji, Shivani Priyadarshni, Xiaoying Yu, Biai Digbeu, Yong Fang Kuo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: No data exist on comparative risk of cardiac arrhythmias among 3 Medication-Assisted Therapy (MAT) medications in patients with opioid use disorder. Understanding MAT medications with the least risk of arrhythmia can guide clinical decision-making. Method: A multicenter retrospective cohort study was performed of patients 18 years or older diagnosed with opioid use disorder by the International Classification of Diseases, 10th revision, Clinical Modification without baseline arrhythmia in 2018-2019, using Clinformatics Data Mart Database (Optum, Eden Prairie, Minn). Everyone required 1 year of continuous enrollment prior to and after the diagnosis. Patients with MAT were propensity score-matched to those without MAT. Primary outcome was rate of arrhythmia across MAT (methadone, naltrexone, and buprenorphine). A multivariable logistic regression model was built to examine the outcome difference across 3 medications adjusted for patient's demographic and comorbidity. Result: Only 14.1% of the 66,083 patients with opioid use disorder received MAT prescriptions in the 12 months after diagnosis. New-onset arrhythmia diagnoses occur more frequently among MAT vs non-MAT users (4.86% vs 3.92%), with 29% risk of incident arrhythmias among MAT users, even after adjusting relevant confounders (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 1.29; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.11-1.52). Incidence of arrhythmia varied by drugs: naltrexone (9.57%), methadone (5.71%), and buprenorphine (3.81%). Difference among the MAT drugs in incidence of arrhythmia remained significant even after adjusting covariates (aOR 2.44; 95% CI, 1.63-3.64 and buprenorphine aOR 0.77; 95% CI, 0.59-1.00, with methadone as reference). Conclusion: MAT users had higher risk of cardiac arrhythmia than non-users. Naltrexone is associated with the highest risk of arrhythmia, suggesting caution with naltrexone use, especially in opioid use disorder patients with pre-existing heart conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)864-870.e3
JournalAmerican Journal of Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2022


  • Arrhythmias
  • Buprenorphine
  • Medication-assisted therapy
  • Methadone
  • Naltrexone
  • Opioid use disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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