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article imageSleeping tablets connected to risk of Alzheimer’s disease

By Tim Sandle     Aug 19, 2018 in Health
A new research study finds that benzodiazepines and related drugs (so-called Z drugs) are linked with a small increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
The new study comes from the University of Eastern Finland. The research shows that the modest increase in risk is similar with both benzodiazepines and Z drugs, irrespective of regardless of their half-life.
Benzodiazepines are a class of psychoactive drugs, grouped together because their core chemical structure is the fusion of a benzene ring and a diazepine ring. They are in the family of drugs referred to as minor tranquilizers.
Benzodiazepine drugs function to enhance the effect of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid at the site of a brain receptor. This triggers a sedative and hypnotic (effect. There is also a reduction in anxiety together with muscle relaxant properties. The drugs are commonly taken for those with sleep disturbance problems.
The new study showed that the increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease was small. However, the results were of sufficient medical significance for medical professionals to take note of. The risk of adverse events remains in longer-term use. The research is important given that dementia is currently the main cause of dependency in older people and it is a major public health concern, impacting on around 36 million people worldwide.
Data was drawn from a nationwide MEDALZ cohort. This was drawn from Finnish community dwellers with newly diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease across 2005-2011. This was a total of 70,719 people. These people were compared against a control group for age, sex and region of residence matched controls. The control group was composed of 282,862 persons.
Medicine use was extracted from the Finnish Prescription Register. The review of medication took into account chronic disorders, substance abuse and the use of antidepressants and antipsychotics. The researchers also took into account the socio-economical position of each of the people.
All of this information was assessed in terms of reverse causality, overlaying drug use with Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis. The researchers conclude: “As dose-response relationship abolished after adjustment for other psychotropics, it is possible that the association may partially be due to antidepressants and/or antipsychotics, or concomitant use of these medications.”
The new research has been published in the journal Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. The research paper is titled “The risk of Alzheimer’s disease associated with benzodiazepines and related drugs: A nested case-control study.”
More about Alzheimer's disease, Neurodegenrative disease, sleeping tablets, Benzodiazepines
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