The risk of dementia is increased by 50 per cent

The risk of dementia is increased by 50 per cent

People over 65 who take a drug used to treat anxiety and sleep problems could increase their risk of developing dementia by 50 per cent.

Researchers from France followed 1063 people aged 65 and older who initially did not have dementia and who were not using benzodiazepine over 15 years.

During the 15 years, 95 people began taking benzodiazepine and 253 people developed dementia. People who had started taking benzodiazepine were 50 per cent more likely to develop dementia.

Alzheimer’s Society comments:

‘This is the not the first time it has been suggested that these drugs could have a negative impact on cognition. With this long-term study adding to the evidence, it emphasises how important it is that we properly monitor how treatments for anxiety or sleep problems are used.

‘While Alzheimer’s Society is leading the way in calling for an end to the inappropriate use of antipsychotic drugs for people with dementia, it is also vital that benzodiazepines are not automatically turned to as the alternative. Instead we need to empower care staff with the knowledge they need to understand dementia and the person behind the condition.’ 

The new research was published in the British Medical Journal.  

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