A common muscle relaxant has been found to cause cognitive dysfunction in people with kidney problems. Baclofen, a drug that is commonly prescribed for muscle pain and spasms, has been linked to severe confusion in patients after a few days by a study.
Dr. Amit Garg and his team at Western University and ICES Western were the researchers behind this study. They found that patients with a lower kidney function (30 or less) who were prescribed baclofen have a one in 25 chance of getting cognitive problems.
They first noticed this when patients with kidney problems complained of confusion. When the doctor’s checked their medical history, they found that the person had recently started taking Baclofen. With people with no kidney issues, the chance is only one in 500. So, the risk is dramatically increased the lower your kidney function is.
Researchers also found that doctors were prescribing the same dose of the drug to all their patients regardless of their kidney function levels. This shows that the guidelines set were not being followed. The study found that the higher the drug dose, the riskier it is for kidney patients.
This study was published in the journal American Medical Association on November 9 this year. They compiled data from thousands of kidney patients. The health reports of 16,000 Ontario baclofen users were taken and compared to a database of 300,000 who didn’t take the drug. This was during a decade long period (2007 – 2018).
The authors hope to bring awareness to the new issue. And they advise the doctors to prescribe the drug with utmost care to patients with kidney problems – prescribe a lower dose whenever possible. And also, to inform the patient and their family of its potential side-effects.