Yet another study has linked benzodiazepine use to an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

Even though the association between benzodiazepine use and Alzheimer’s disease was small in this study, the threshold for prescribing these drugs should be high enough due to their overall adverse effect profile, including higher risk of falls and hip fractures.

These drugs are often used to treat sleep problems, but their efficacy for this

indication diminishes over time, whereas the risks for adverse events remain .Physicians should consider the risks and benefits, as well as appropriate duration of treatment, before prescribing these drugs.

Although other studies have linked benzodiazepines with AD risk, researchers believe this one is the largest to date.

In addition to insomnia, benzodiazepines and other so-called “Z” drugs, such as zolpidem (multiple brands) and zopiclone (Lunesta, Sunovion), are used to treat other neuropsychiatric symptoms of dementia, such as anxiety.

Although these drugs have different molecular structures, they have a similar mechanism of action and similar anxiolytic, anticonvulsive, hypnotic, and relaxing effects. In addition, they have similar adverse effects, including drowsiness, and their use is associated with mobility problems, falls, and fractures.

Benzodiazepines are used in 9% to 32% of older patients, the authors report.