Benzodiazepines Increase Stroke Risk Among Alzheimers Disease Patients

Certain psychoactive drugs increase stroke risk by 20% among Alzheimer’s patient population.

Benzodiazepines and related drugs are associated with a 20% increased risk of stroke among patients with Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study published in International Clinical Psychopharmacology.

The analysis was based on data from the nationwide register-based study MEDALZ, conducted from 2005 to 2011 by investigators from the University of Eastern Finland.

Included in the study were 45,050 patients with Alzheimer’s disease, 22% of whom started using benzodiazepines or benzodiazepine-like drugs, according to a press release.

The results of the analysis showed that the use of these drugs was associated with an increased risk of stroke and ischemic stroke.

Although the association with hemorrhagic stroke was not significant, the investigators said that due to the small number of hemorrhagic stroke events in the study population, the possibility of an association cannot be excluded.

The study findings are important since benzodiazepines and benzodiazepine-like drugs were not previously known to predispose to strokes or other cerebrovascular events, according to the release.

The investigators did take cardiovascular risk factors into account, but it did not explain the association, according to the authors.

Stroke is one of the leading causes of death among the Alzheimer’s disease patient population. The findings indicate that caution should be taken when prescribing benzodiazepines and benzodiazepine-like drugs to these patients.