Using benzodiazepines and related drugs (Z drugs) is linked to a moderately higher risk of Alzheimer's disease, reports a new study. The increase in risk was alike with both benzodiazepines and Z drugs despite their half-life. The findings of the study are published in the journal Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica.
Even though the increased risk for Alzheimer's disease was small in this study, the threshold for prescribing benzodiazepines and related drugs should be high enough due to their several adverse effects and events, such as falls.
‘Use of benzodiazepines drugs to treat sleeplessness or anxiety may raise the risk for Alzheimer's disease (AD).’
These medications are commonly used for sleep problems, but their effectiveness for this indication diminishes over weeks or months.
However, the risk of adverse events remains in longer-term use.
The study was conducted in the nationwide MEDALZ cohort which included all Finnish community dwellers with newly diagnosed Alzheimer's disease in 2005-2011 (70,719 persons), and their age, sex, and region of residence matched controls (282,862 persons).
Medicine use since 1995 was extracted from the Finnish Prescription Register. Many chronic disorders, substance abuse, socioeconomic position and use of antidepressants and antipsychotics were taken into account. To account for reverse causality, drug use within five years before Alzheimer's disease diagnosis was not taken into account.