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Benzodiazepines and Alzheimer’s

Benzodiazepines and Alzheimer’s featured image

Here’s important information if you or a loved takes sleeping pills or common anti-anxiety drugs. A  study in the British medical Journal finds these drugs are associated with a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease in older people.

The research involved about 2,000 cases of Alzheimer’s disease in adults over 66 living in Quebec. All had been prescribed benzodiazepines, which are marketed under the names Xanax, Valium, and Ativan.

They were compared with about 7,000 healthy people of the same age living in the same community. Those who took daily doses for three to six months over a five-year period were roughly 32 per cent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s.

Those who took a full daily dose for more than six months were 84 per cent more likely to do so.

These medications are widely used to treat insomnia, agitation and anxiety, all of which can be early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. But this study was designed to exclude those cases and   probe the possibility that the drugs may actually cause or hasten its onset.

Bottom line from the study authors, doctors should think carefully before prescribing or renewing treatment with benzodiazepines in older patients.

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