Published on Sep 17, 2014 by Edgar Snyder

Long-Term Use of Sedatives Linked to Alzheimer's

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A new study shows connection between long-term anti-anxiety drug use and Alzheimer's disease

A study by the British Medical Journal suggests that older adults who regularly take sedatives for longer than three months have up to a 51% higher risk for Alzheimer's disease.

Researchers examined six years of data compiled from almost 9,000 elderly users of benzodiazepines – a class of prescribed anti-anxiety and insomnia medications that includes Valium, Ativan, Xanax, and Klonopin – and found 1,796 cases of Alzheimer's disease.

The positive correlation between the medications' use and Alzheimer's disease could be attributed to extreme anxiety as an indicator of dementia and Alzheimer's in older adults. According to the National Institute of Health, people who suffer from these diseases become anxious, irritated, and delirious toward the end of their day, a condition known as "sundowning." Benzodiazepines attempt to slow down this process, but also make it harder for the sufferer to move around.

According to the American Geriatrics Society, these medications promote delirium and cognitive impairment that puts seniors at a greater risk for accidents of any kind, especially slip and falls. While the drugs "may be appropriate for seizure disorders, rapid eye movement sleep disorders...severe generalized anxiety disorder...or end of life care," experts still advise against older adults using benzodiazepines for longer than three months.

Has someone in your life been prescribed a medication that led to severe complications?

The last thing people expect is for a medication to give them serious complications. If you or someone you know was prescribed a drug that led to a critical injury, you may have a case. Remember that the clock is ticking. There are time limits to file a dangerous drug claim.

“Commonly prescribed drugs could raise risk for Alzheimer’s.” CBS News. Sept. 10, 2014.
“Drugs used for anxiety, sleep are linked to Alzheimer’s in older people.” Los Angeles Times. Sept. 8, 2014.
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