Adverse effects of Z-drugs for sleep disturbance in people living with dementia: a population-based cohort study

Richardson, Kathryn, Loke, Yoon K., Fox, Chris, Maidment, Ian, Howard, Robert, Steel, Nicholas, Arthur, Antony, Boyd, Penelope J., Aldus, Clare, Ballard, Clive and Savva, George M. (2020) Adverse effects of Z-drugs for sleep disturbance in people living with dementia: a population-based cohort study. BMC Medicine, 18. ISSN 1741-7015

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Abstract

Background: Sleep disturbance is common in dementia and often treated with Z-drugs (zopiclone, zaleplon, and zolpidem). While some observational studies suggest that Z-drugs are associated with adverse events such as falls and fracture risks in older people, this has not been studied in dementia. Methods: We used data from 27,090 patients diagnosed with dementia between January 2000 and March 2016 from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink linked to Hospital Episodes Statistics data in England. We compared adverse events for 3532 patients newly prescribed Z-drugs by time-varying dosage to (1) 1833 non-sedative-users with sleep disturbance; (2) 10,214 non-sedative-users with proximal GP consultation matched on age, sex, and antipsychotic use; and (3) 5172 patients newly prescribed benzodiazepines. We defined higher dose Z-drugs and benzodiazepines as prescriptions equivalent to ≥ 7.5 mg zopiclone or > 5 mg diazepam daily. Cox regression was used to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) for incident fracture, hip fracture, fall, mortality, acute bacterial infection, ischaemic stroke/transient ischaemic attack, and venous thromboembolism over a 2-year follow-up, adjusted for demographic- and health-related covariates. Results: The mean (SD) age of patients was 83 (7.7) years, and 16,802 (62%) were women. Of 3532 patients prescribed Z-drugs, 584 (17%) were initiated at higher doses. For patients prescribed higher dose Z-drugs relative to non-users with sleep disturbance, the HRs (95% confidence interval) for fractures, hip fractures, falls, and ischaemic stroke were 1.67 (1.13–2.46), 1.96 (1.16–3.31), 1.33 (1.06–1.66), and 1.88 (1.14–3.10), respectively. We observed similar associations when compared to non-sedative-users with proximal GP consultation. Minimal or inconsistent excess risks were observed at ≤ 3.75 mg zopiclone or equivalent daily, and for mortality, infection, and venous thromboembolism. We observed no differences in adverse events for Z-drugs compared to benzodiazepines, except lower mortality rates with Z-drugs (HR [95% confidence interval] of 0.73 [0.64–0.83]). Conclusions: Higher dose Z-drug use in dementia is associated with increased fracture and stroke risks, similar or greater to that for higher dose benzodiazepines. Higher dose Z-drugs should be avoided, if possible, in people living with dementia, and non-pharmacological alternatives preferentially considered. Prescriptions for higher dose Z-drugs in dementia should be regularly reviewed. Trial registration: ENCePP e-register of studies, EUPAS18006.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: accidental falls,alzheimer disease,benzodiazepines,cohort studies,dementia,hip fractures,sleep initiation and maintenance disorders,zolpidem,medicine(all) ,/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/2700
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Norwich Medical School
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Health Sciences
Related URLs:
Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 21 Oct 2020 23:56
Last Modified: 14 Jul 2021 00:26
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/77399
DOI: 10.1186/s12916-020-01821-5

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