People with Alzheimer’s disease are much more likely to receive benzodiazepines and other sedatives compared to peers without the neurocognitve disorder.
Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland examined data from the Finnish Medication Use and Alzheimer's Disease Study, Medalz. It includes information on all people diagnoses with Alzheimer’s in the country between 2005 and 2011. They found that nearly 52,000 people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s during that time frame had received a benzodiazepine or related drug. Their use of drugs was monitored for a period of five years, and the follow-up started two years before the diagnosis.
A further review found that those with Alzheimer’s were three times as likely to commence benzodiazepine treatment than those without the condition, the researchers reported in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. Finnish guidelines call for benzodiazepines to only be used for short period of time as the drugs can increase the risk of falls and lead to cognitive impairment.
An earlier analysis of the Medalz study found that often, benzodiazepines are used as a long-term treatment in Alzheimer’s patients. The researchers caution that results for the two study indicate that diagnosis of Alzheimer’s may be delayed in some cases and treatment of symptoms before an Alzheimer’s diagnosis has been made.
Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and eventually even the ability to carry out the simplest tasks, according to the National Institute on Aging. In most people with Alzheimer’s, symptoms first…
Benzodiazepines and related drugs are initiated frequently in persons with Alzheimer’s disease already before the diagnosis, and their use becomes even more common after the diagnosis, shows a recent study from the University of Eastern Finland.
These drugs were initiated more frequently in persons with Alzheimer’s disease than in persons not diagnosed with AD. Compared to persons not diagnosed with AD, it was three times more likely for persons with Alzheimer’s disease to initiate benzodiazepine use after the diagnosis, and benzodiazepines were most commonly initiated six months after the diagnosis.