Prior to an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis, benzodiazepines and related drugs are commonly used and become more even more common after diagnosis. The research comes from the University of Eastern Finland. Benzodiazepines are a line of drugs used for sleep or anxiolytic purposes. Use of benzodiazepines becomes more common in those with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease than those without a diagnosis.
Researchers used data from the Finnish Medication Use and Alzheimer’s Disease Study (Medalz). The database includes all Finnish persons diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease between 2005 and 2011. The researchers examined the use of benzodiazepines and related drugs in 51,981 people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Over the course of five years, drug use was recorded and follow-up started two-years prior to diagnosis. Findings were compared to individuals not diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and matched by gender and age.
The research suggests short-term use of such medications can be beneficial for treating behavioral problems associated with Alzheimer’s disease, but the data to support these claims is insufficient. On the other hand, these drugs have been shown to increase the risk of falls and cause cognitive impairment.
The research reveals the role of benzodiazepines as it contributes to the delay of Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis and raised concerns about the practice of symptom-based treatment prior and around diagnosis.
The findings were published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.