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Do Benzodiazepines Pose a Dementia Risk?

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Benzodiazepine use is a growing problem. So, the number of Americans using benzodiazepines increased from 8.1 million in 1996 to 13.5 million in 2013. And so, the quantity of benzodiazepine prescriptions filled during that time more than tripled. Although the American Geriatrics Society has listed them for years as “Inappropriate Medications”. It is because of the health risks they pose to those over the age of 65. Thus, benzodiazepines are still prescribed to almost 9 percent of elderly people. So, even for younger people, benzodiazepines cause acute cognitive impairment, among other risks. benzodiazepines drugs, benzodiazepines for anxiety, benzodiazepines valium, benzodiazepines for sleep.
 
Increased risk of dementia is another major concern with long-term use of benzodiazepines. In a meta-analysis, heavy doses of benzodiazepines associated with a risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Two other recent studies also suggested an association between benzodiazepine use and dementia. Finding that heavy use increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. While occasional low-dose use did not.

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But a recent study from Dr. Shelly Gray and colleagues at the University of Washington reported different results. Dr. Gray and colleagues examined the pharmacy records of Seattle residents over the age of 65. To see the number of benzodiazepine prescriptions made over the previous 10 years. Participants, grouped by exposure. never users, light users (<30 total days of benzodiazepine prescriptions). medium users (31-120 days), and heavy users (>120 days). Gray and colleagues found that even heavy users were at no greater risk for Alzheimer’s disease than never users.
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Why this study and another from last year run counter to prevailing evidence is unclear. Is there a difference in the study population—participants in the United States, Canada, the UK, or Taiwan? Is it an association with a particular benzodiazepine—Xanax versus Valium or Klonopin? While most studies agree that low-dose use of benzodiazepines in younger people is not associated with dementia in later life. Research on the risk of heavy use is somewhat mixed. Still, the evidence suggests an increasing risk with cumulative exposure. Learn More.

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