Z Sleeping Drugs in Dementia Not Safe

by Karishma Abhishek on November 24, 2020 at 10:47 PM
Z Sleeping Drugs in Dementia Not Safe

Higher risk of falls, fractures, and strokes are associated with usage of Z sleeping drugs among people with dementia, as per research from the University of East Anglia.

Dementia is characterized by a decline in memory and cognition, affecting behavior and activities of daily life. Sleeping issues are commonly seen in 90% of dementia patients, affecting their mental and physical health and also of their caregivers.


Z-drugs (e.g. Zopiclone, Zaleplon, and Zolpidem) are a class of sleeping pills - Nonbenzodiazepines known to treat insomnia. It is recommended for only short-term use (maximum of four weeks) in people with dementia.

Though the efficacy of these drugs is unclear, dementia patients are often prescribed high doses of Z-drugs This is associated with a greater adverse effect as seen with benzodiazepines or 'benzos' - a stronger class of sedative drugs, except for a lower mortality rate with Z-drugs.

Z-drugs among Dementia Patients:

To analyze the effects of these drugs and their dosage in dementia, the research team employed data from 27,090 dementia patients of average age 83 years in England, between January 2000 and March 2016. Among them 62% were women.

Adverse events of Z-drugs - fractures, falls, deep vein thrombosis, stroke, and death were monitored in 3,532 patients over two years. Data were compared to people with sleeping disturbances, who were not on any sedatives, and those who had been on prescribed benzodiazepines.

"For patients prescribed Z-drugs, 17 percent were given higher doses. And we found that these patients on higher doses were more at risk of falls and fractures, particularly hip fractures, and stroke - compared with patients who were not taking any medication for sleep disturbance", said Prof Chris Fox, from UEA's Norwich Medical School. "Patients already taking higher dose Z-drugs should not stop taking their medication, but we recommend that they should make an appointment to see their GP for a review", he added.

The study offers insights to avoid usage of long-term higher doses of sleeping pills in dementia patients. This urges the need to develop non-drug approaches for these patients to tackle sleep issues and social isolation during Covid-19.

Source: Medindia
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