Dementia Patients Taking “Z-drugs” Zaleplon (Sonata) and Zolpidem (Ambien) Suffer an Increased Risk of Falls, Hip Fractures, and Strokes
According to a recent study published on ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, a British study found that powerful sleeping medications, otherwise known as “Z-drugs,” has been linked with an increased risk of falls, hip fractures, and stroke among people with dementia.
Dementia patients typically have difficulty sleeping and are frequently prescribed medications such as Ambien (zolpidem), Sonata (zaleplon), or zopiclone to help them fall asleep. However, researchers discovered that when dementia patients are prescribed higher doses of “Z-drugs,” the side effects can be severe and life-threatening.
Chris Fox, at the University of East Anglia’s Norwich Medical School, stated that approximately 90% of dementia patients have difficulties falling asleep. Clinical sleep disturbances lead to severe physical and mental health issues. However, Z-drugs were never authorized as a therapy option for dementia patients, and Z-drugs have been linked to falls, strokes, and fracture risks in older persons.”
The researchers collected data on over 27,000 English patients diagnosed with dementia. The average age of the study subjects was 83-years-old. Over 3,500 patients were prescribed Z-drugs. The study then monitored the subjects for adverse events including falls, deep vein thrombosis [blood clots], fractures, falls, strokes, and fatalities for two years. The researchers were especially interested in ascertaining if higher doses result in more harmful consequences. The research study was published online in the journal BMC Medicine website.
In the study, 17% of the patients prescribed a “Z-drug” were given higher doses. The researchers noted that the higher the dose, the greater the risk of strokes and falls with fractures, particularly hip fractures when compared with unmedicated dementia patients. The results were not witnessed at lower doses of the drugs.
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