Dementia: Study Shows Usage Of Sleep Medications Increases The Risk Dementia In White Individuals!
: According to a recent scientific study led by the University of California, San Francisco, sleep medications, including benzodiazepines, antidepressants, and Ambien, may increase the risk of dementia in white individuals.
However, the type and quantity of medication may be factors that affect the higher risk.
The study followed approximately 3,000 older adults without dementia
over an average of nine years.
During the study, 20% developed dementia, and white participants who frequently used sleep medications had a 79% higher chance of developing dementia compared to those who rarely or never used them.
However, black participants had a similar likelihood of developing dementia, whether they frequently used sleep aids or abstained.
The study also found that whites were three times more likely to use sleep medications than blacks, with higher-income black individuals potentially less susceptible to dementia due to greater cognitive reserve.
The authors suggest that socioeconomic status may be a contributing factor to these differences, as black participants who have access to sleep medications may be a select group with high socioeconomic status and greater cognitive reserve.
The researchers also found that whites were more likely to use benzodiazepines, trazodone, and "Z-drugs" such as Ambien, which may be prescribed for chronic insomnia.
Whites were also 10 times as likely to take trazodone, an antidepressant known by the trade names of Desyrel and Oleptro, which may also be prescribed as a sleep aid. And they were more than seven times as likely to take “Z-drugs,” such as Ambien, a so-called sedative-hypnotic.
The study suggests that some sleep medications may be associated with a higher risk of dementia than others, but more research is needed to understand the cognitive risks or rewards of these medications.
The study's senior author, Dr Kristine Yaffe, MD, suggests that patients with poor sleep should first determine the type of sleep issues they are dealing with, as a sleep test may be required if sleep apnea is a possibility. If insomnia is diagnosed, cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-i) is the first-line treatment. If medication is to be used, melatonin might be a safer option, but more evidence is needed to understand its long-term impact on health.
The research was supported by the UCSF Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center, funded by the National Institute on Aging, and Dr Yue Leng is supported by the National Institute on Aging (NIA).
Overall, the study suggests that sleep medications, including benzodiazepines, antidepressants, and Ambien, may increase the risk of dementia in white individuals. The type and quantity of medication may be factors in explaining the higher risk. However, the study also highlights differences in risk and medication use between white and black individuals, which may be attributed to socioeconomic status and access to healthcare.
It is important to note that the study has some limitations, including a relatively small sample size of black participants and a lack of information on the specific types of sleep medications used by participants. The study also does not prove causation, only association. Future studies may offer more clarity on the cognitive risks or rewards of sleep medications and the role that race may play in the development of dementia.
Despite the limitations, the study highlights the importance of considering the potential risks associated with sleep medications when treating patients with poor sleep. The findings suggest that healthcare providers should carefully evaluate the potential benefits and risks of sleep medications, particularly for white individuals who frequently use them, and consider non-medication options as a first-line treatment.
The study also raises important questions about healthcare disparities and the role that access to healthcare and socioeconomic status may play in the development of dementia. Further research is needed to better understand the factors contributing to these disparities and to develop targeted interventions to reduce the risk of dementia in all populations.
In conclusion, the study adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting that sleep medications may increase the risk of dementia, particularly in white individuals. Patients with poor sleep should consider non-medication options, such as cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-i), as a first-line treatment.
Healthcare providers should carefully evaluate the potential benefits and risks of sleep medications, particularly for white individuals who frequently use them, and consider non-medication options.
The study findings were published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
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