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BMJ. 2016 Feb 2;352:i90. doi: 10.1136/bmj.i90.

Benzodiazepine use and risk of incident dementia or cognitive decline: prospective population based study.

Author information

1
School of Pharmacy, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-7630, US slgray@u.washington.edu.
2
Group Health Research Institute, Group Health Cooperative, Seattle, WA, US.
3
Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, PA, US.
4
University of Washington Department of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine, Seattle, WA, US.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To determine whether higher cumulative use of benzodiazepines is associated with a higher risk of dementia or more rapid cognitive decline.

DESIGN:

Prospective population based cohort.

SETTING:

Integrated healthcare delivery system, Seattle, Washington.

PARTICIPANTS:

3434 participants aged ≥ 65 without dementia at study entry. There were two rounds of recruitment (1994-96 and 2000-03) followed by continuous enrollment beginning in 2004.

MAIN OUTCOMES MEASURES:

The cognitive abilities screening instrument (CASI) was administered every two years to screen for dementia and was used to examine cognitive trajectory. Incident dementia and Alzheimer's disease were determined with standard diagnostic criteria. Benzodiazepine exposure was defined from computerized pharmacy data and consisted of the total standardized daily doses (TSDDs) dispensed over a 10 year period (a rolling window that moved forward in time during follow-up). The most recent year was excluded because of possible use for prodromal symptoms. Multivariable Cox proportional hazard models were used to examine time varying use of benzodiazepine and dementia risk. Analyses of cognitive trajectory used linear regression models with generalized estimating equations.

RESULTS:

Over a mean follow-up of 7.3 years, 797 participants (23.2%) developed dementia, of whom 637 developed Alzheimer's disease. For dementia, the adjusted hazard ratios associated with cumulative benzodiazepine use compared with non-use were 1.25 (95% confidence interval 1.03 to 1.51) for 1-30 TSDDs; 1.31 (1.00 to 1.71) for 31-120 TSDDs; and 1.07 (0.82 to 1.39) for ≥ 121 TSDDs. Results were similar for Alzheimer's disease. Higher benzodiazepine use was not associated with more rapid cognitive decline.

CONCLUSION:

The risk of dementia is slightly higher in people with minimal exposure to benzodiazepines but not with the highest level of exposure. These results do not support a causal association between benzodiazepine use and dementia.

PMID:
26837813
PMCID:
PMC4737849
DOI:
10.1136/bmj.i90
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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