Anxiety Drugs Linked to Alzheimer’s Disease

The American Geriatrics Society has included sedative-hypnotic drugs like Ambien and Valium on its Choosing Wisely list because the medications are linked to increased rates of falls, fractures, auto accidents, and cognitive impairment in older adults who use them.

But if those aren’t high enough prices to consider for sleepless seniors, a new study by French and Canadian researchers finds that the use of these drugs is linked to higher rates of Alzheimer’s disease.

The study selected 1,800 Quebec seniors diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and compared them with over 7,000 control subjects. The study found that those who used a benzodiazepine like Valium or Xanax had a 51 percent increase in the odds of a subsequent Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

Long-term use was also determined to significantly increase the probability of developing the disease. Older patients who used the drugs for 90 days or fewer showed no increased risk, while those who took dosages for 91 to 180 days increased their risk by 32 percent.

Researchers didn’t go so far as to say that prolonged benzodiazepine use causes Alzheimer’s, but their findings reinforce the suspicion of a possible direct association between the disease and the drug. “Stopping these medications is such an easy, cost-effective potential therapy,” said one physician remarking on the study.

Turn to CPI for complete resources for providing person-centered care for those with Alzheimer’s/dementia.

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