Tag Archives: BMJ

Benzodiazepines and dementia

27 Sep

Benzodiazepines, a class of drugs that includes Valium and Ambien, may be a risk factor for dementia, according to a paper published in The British Medical Journal. Here is the paper’s conclusion:

“Benzodiazepine use is associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The stronger association observed for long term exposures reinforces the suspicion of a possible direct association, even if benzodiazepine use might also be an early marker of a condition associated with an increased risk of dementia. Unwarranted long term use of these drugs should be considered as a public health concern.”

Paula Span, of The New York Times,  has a good overview here.

And here is an overview of benzodiazepine pharmacology:

 

 

Study: ACE inhibitors may slow cognitive decline in dementia

28 Jul

ACE inhibitors are drugs primarily used to treat high blood pressure. Some ACE inhibitors are classified as centrally acting because they cross the blood brain barrier.

Now a study published in the British Medical Journal suggests that centrally acting ACE inhibitors might slow cognitive decline in patients with dementia. Scores on standard tests of cognitive impairment such as the Mini–mental state examination were stable after six months for patients who used the centrally acting ACE inhibitors when confounding variables (such as blood pressure and years of education) were controlled.

The researchers was careful to report limitations of their study. These are the kind of details that often are missed in popular accounts of scientific research. For example, the authors state:

“the differences were small and of uncertain clinical significance”

In addition, the study was based on the examination of an existing data base and not every patient in the data base was tested at both baseline and six months. Thus, the necessary exclusion of these patients may have introduced a bias into the study that could not be properly controlled. Randomized prospective research will be needed to confirm or falsify these results.

Beware of anyone who tries to market these drugs for dementia before additional research is conducted.

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