Benzodiazepine and related drug use is associated with a 40 per cent increase in mortality among people with Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study by the University of Eastern Finland. The findings have been published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.
The study found that the risk of death increased from the initiation of benzodiazepine and related drug use. The increased risk of death may result from the adverse events of these drugs, including fall-related injuries, such as hip fractures, as well as pneumonia and stroke.
The study was based on data gathered from everyone diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in Finland between 2005 and 2011. People who already used benzodiazepines and related drugs previously were excluded from the study. The 10,380 new users of these drugs were compared with 20,760 people who did not use them.
Although several treatment guidelines state that non-pharmacological options should be the first-line treatment of anxiety, agitation and insomnia in people with dementia, benzodiazepines and related drugs are frequently used in their treatment, although they are recommended for short-term use only.