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Benzo use increases hip fractures in Alzheimer’s patients

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The use of benzodiazepines and related drugs increases the risk of hip fracture by 43% in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, according to researchers.

Their study looked at all patients living in the community who were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in Finland over a six-year period.

In total, 21% of the patients initiated benzodiazepine and related drug use during the study by the University of Eastern Finland.

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 six months of drug use, said the study authors.

They noted that there was no difference within the drug group, as benzodiazepines increased the hip fracture risk as much as benzodiazepine-related drugs.

Additionally, they found that long-term hospital stays exceeding four months after hip fracture were more common in persons with Alzheimer’s who used benzodiazepines and related drugs at the time of hip fracture than in persons who did not use such drugs.

The results of this study highlight the importance of the guidelines to avoid adverse events associated with benzodiazepine and related drug use, said the authors in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association.

The also concluded that a “higher threshold in prescribing benzodiazepines for neuropsychiatric symptoms might decrease the hip fracture rate and affect the length of hospital stay in persons with Alzheimer’s disease”.

The study was based on data on all Finnish patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease between 2005 and 2011, totalling 70,718 people.

It involved 46,373 patients who had no history of hip fractures and had not used benzodiazepines and related drugs during the year preceding the study. The follow-up time was up to five years.

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