Sleeping pills found to double the risk of breaking your hip

Taking commonly-used sleeping pills may raise the odds of hip fracture in elderly patients, a study revealed. As part of the study, a team of researchers from the King’s College London and the Cardiff University in the U.K. examined data on elderly patients who were recently prescribed hypnotic drugs such as benzodiazepines and z-drugs and compared them with non-users.

The researchers found that patients who took the sleep-inducing drugs between 15 to 30 days had a 53 percent higher odds of suffering a hip fracture than those who did not take the drugs. The study also revealed that taking the drugs for more than a month further elevated the risk by up to 20 percent. According to the research team, benzodiazepines acted on the body’s central nervous system to promote sleep, while z-drugs were used to address insomnia.

“While Z-drugs are fast becoming the doctor’s hypnotic prescription of choice, there is no evidence that they are a safer alternative to benzodiazepines in relation to hip fracture risk. Our study shows that both appear to significantly increase the risk of hip fracture when newly prescribed by doctors. Careful consideration of the immediate increased risk of hip fracture should inform the clinical decision-making process. Clinically effective measures like strength training to improve frailty, removal of hazards at home, visual correction and a medication review are also needed to mitigate the risk of hip fractures, particularly in the first few days of use,” said study author Dr. Ben Carter.

The findings were published in the journal PLOS ONE.

More studies link sleeping pills, hip fractures in seniors

The recent study was only one of the many research that demonstrated the potentially dangerous effects of taking sleeping pills. For instance, an analysis published in 2003 revealed that taking benzodiazepines increased the risk of hip fractures between 50 to 110 percent. According to the analysis, new users and those who took higher doses were at an increased risk of suffering a hip fracture. In addition, the drug was shown to elevate the risk of hip fracture in older people by up to 50 percent. Furthermore, benzodiazepines that undergo oxidation in the liver may be linked to higher risk of hip fracture compared with other types of benzodiazepines. The results appeared in the journal CNS Drugs.

Another study showed that benzodiazepine use was associated with a higher incidence hip fractures in elderly patients. To carry out the study, a team of researchers examined more than 125,000 patients and found that the incidence of hip fractures in the previous six months compared with those who did not take the drugs. The findings were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The sleep-inducing drug was also shown to be particularly detrimental to elderly patients with Alzheimer’s disease. (Related: Take better care of yourself by reading about the different ways to be healthy at A large Finnish study revealed that Alzheimer’s disease patients who were prescribed benzodiazepines had a 43 percent increased likelihood of suffering a hip fracture compared with nonusers. The researchers also found that patients with Alzheimer’s disease were more likely to be hospitalized for more than four months after the hip fracture. The results were published in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association.

The findings are “important because the drug can be used to treat the anxiety, agitation and insomnia that often comes hand in hand with dementia. People with Alzheimer’s disease are already more susceptible to falls and are twice as likely to experience hip fracture. This study finds that benzodiazepine increases that risk even further, reinforcing our view that person-centred care approaches should always be considered first for people living with dementia,” said outside expert Clare Walton, Research Communications Manager at the charity Alzheimer’s Society.

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