A new research study has found that the use of benzodiazepines and related drugs increases the risk of hip fracture by 43 percent in people with Alzheimer’s disease.
The study was conducted in community-dwelling Finnish people with Alzheimer’s who were evaluated for their hip fracture risk.
The results of the study were published in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, titled “Risk of Hip Fracture in Benzodiazepine Users With and Without Alzheimer Disease.”
Examples of benzodiazepines are Valium, Xanax, Ativan, and Klonopin, among others.
Investigators looked at 70,718 Finnish people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease between 2005 and 2011 (from the MEDALZ database) and included 46,373 people in the study who had no history of hip fractures and who had not used benzodiazepines or related drugs in the year before the study started.
According to a press release, the study’s follow-up period was up to five years.
The researchers observed that 21 percent of people with Alzheimer’s began taking benzodiazepine (or related drugs) during the study. In the time these patients used benzodiazepines, 2.5 hip fractures occurred per 100 person-years, whereas without using the drug, the incidence dropped to 1.4 hip fractures per 100 person-years.
The use of benzodiazepines or similar drugs increased hip fracture risks particularly during the first six months of drug use. Researchers found no difference in results between those using similar types of drugs as benzodiazepines.
The study also noted that the need for staying in the hospital for longer periods of time after a hip fracture was more frequent for Alzheimer’s patients who were taking some kind of benzodiazepine compared to those who did not use these types of drugs.
Several countries around the world have recommendations on how to treat behavioral and psychosocial symptoms of dementia using nonpharmacological options.
Benzodiazepines and similar drugs can be used in sporadic or short-term treatment of symptoms. But the results of this study highlight the importance of these guidelines to avoid adverse events related to benzodiazepines.
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