Sedatives Increase Risk of Pneumonia in Alzheimer’s Patients, Study Says

Sedatives Increase Risk of Pneumonia in Alzheimer’s Patients, Study Says
Sedatives increase the risk of pneumonia in people with Alzheimer's disease, according to a recent study, acting as a reminder to physicians that non-medical approaches should be considered before drugs in these patients. The study, "Risk of pneumonia associated with incident benzodiazepine use among community-dwelling adults with Alzheimer disease," was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland found that a type of sedative medications called benzodiazepines were associated with a 28% increased risk of pneumonia among Alzheimer’s patients. The risk was highest during the first month of treatment. Those taking non-benzodiazepine sedatives, called Z-drugs, did not have a statistically significant increased risk of pneumonia. But since the study did not compare benzodiazepines and Z-drugs, researchers concluded this finding did not guarantee that Z-drugs are safe. "An increased risk of pneumonia is an important finding to consider in treatment of patients with Alzheimer disease," Heidi Taipale, PhD, lead author of the study and researcher at the Kuopio Research Centre of Geriatric Care, said in a press release. "Benzodiazepines and Z-drugs are frequently prescribed for this population, and long-term use is typical. Pneumonia often leads to admission to hospital, and patients with dementia are at increased risk of death related to pneumonia," Taipa
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