In a recent case-control study based on almost 9000 elderly people living in the province of Quebec, Canada, French and Canadian researchers demonstrate that the risk of Alzheimer’s disease is increased by 43-to-51% among those who had used benzodiazepines in the past. The study was published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).
There was a dose-effect relation between benzodiazepine use and the increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Moreover, long term use or the use of long acting benzodiazepines was linked to higher risk.
Of note, the results from this study are consistent with those of five previous studies. Previous research links adverse effects of benzodiazepine use with mild cognitive impairment and limitation in cognitive reserve capacity. In the elderly, a higher frequency of skeletal fractures has been recorded.
Now, the American Geriatrics Society lists benzodiazepines as inappropriate drugs for older adults, in accordance with their unwanted cognitive side effects. Yet almost 50% of older adults continue to use these drugs.
According to the authors of this study “benzodiazepine prescription in older people should comply with good practice guidelines – that is, the shortest duration with a preference for formulations with a short half life”.
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Source: BMJ 2014; 349:g5205 doi: 10.1136/bmj.g5205 (Published 9 September 2014)