Should STEMI Patients Receive Opiate Analgesia? The Morphine Paradox

Mohamed Farag, Nikolaos Spinthakis, Manivannan Srinivasan, Diana Adrienne Gorog

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: The very significant benefit of P2Y12 receptor inhibitor administration in patients with ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), in reducing future ischaemic events and stent thrombosis, is undisputed. Morphine analgesia is very frequently co-administered to these patients for pain relief, along with antiplatelet therapy, at the time of presentation, and prior to reperfusion with primary percutaneous coronary intervention.

METHODS: Research and online content related to opiates use in STEMI was reviewed. Bibliographies of retrieved studies were searched manually for additional studies and reviews.

RESULTS: There is sufficient data from pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic studies showing that the co-administration of morphine with oral P2Y12 receptor inhibitor results in delayed antiplatelet effects. However, whether this results in adverse outcomes remains unclear. Data from studies reporting the effect of morphine on clinical outcomes in STEMI are inconsistent, although they tend to be underpowered to show an effect on hard clinical outcomes, but some clearly show a relationship between morphine use and infarct size. Strategies to overcome the potentially significant negative impact of morphine on platelet reactivity in STEMI are discussed.

CONCLUSION: Whilst clearly definitive, adequately powered, randomised controlled trials are lacking, we would recommend avoiding the combination of morphine with oral P2Y12 receptor inhibitors and recommend alternative strategies including intravenous platelet inhibitor strategies, in high risk patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)477-483
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent vascular pharmacology
Issue number5
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Jan 2018


  • Acute coronary syndrome
  • Antiplatelet therapy
  • Morphine
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Opiates
  • Platelet reactivity


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