November 23, 2016

Benzodiazepines Increase Risk of Hip Fractures in Patients With Alzheimer’s Disease

JOENSUU, Finland -- November 23, 2016 -- The use of benzodiazepines and related drugs increase the risk of hip fracture by 43% in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association.

The hip fracture risk was investigated in community-dwelling Finnish persons with Alzheimer’s disease.

In total, 21% of persons with Alzheimer’s disease initiated benzodiazepine and related drug use during the study. During benzodiazepine and related drug use, 2.5 hip fractures occurred per 100 person-years whereas without drug use, the incidence was 1.4 hip fractures per 100 person-years.

The use of benzodiazepines and related drugs increased the hip fracture risk especially during the first 6 months of drug use. There was no difference within the drug group, as benzodiazepines increased the hip fracture risk as much as benzodiazepine-related drugs.

In addition, long-term hospital stays exceeding 4 months after hip fracture were more common in patients with Alzheimer’s disease who used benzodiazepines and related drugs at the time of hip fracture than in persons who did not use such drugs.

Treatment guidelines in different countries recommend that behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia should be treated with nonpharmacological options. Benzodiazepines and related drugs can be used in infrequent or short-term treatment of symptoms.

The results of the study highlight the importance of the guidelines to avoid adverse events associated with benzodiazepine and related drug use, according to Laura Saarelainen, School of Pharmacy, University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu, Finland, and colleagues.

The study was based on the Medication Use and Alzheimer's Disease (MEDALZ) cohort, including all Finnish persons diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease between 2005 and 2011, comprising 70,718 persons. This study involved 46,373 persons who had no history of hip fractures and who had not used benzodiazepines and related drugs during the year preceding the study. The follow-up time in the study was up to 5 years.

SOURCE: University of Eastern Finland
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