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Alzheimer's Disease Medication Increases Pneumonia Risk, Research Says [VIDEO]

Update Date: Apr 13, 2017 09:18 AM EDT

A recent study conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Eastern Finland found that an Alzheimer's disease medication, in particular sedatives like benzodiazepines, increases pneumonia risk for patients. The findings raise the reminder of being more mindful in giving prescriptions to patients while considering the risks and benefits.

The researchers from UEF in Kuopio, Finland gathered data from 49,484 participants of the Medication use and Alzheimer's disease, also known as MEDALZ, national registries for Alzheimer's disease patients. They were able to get information about the patient's prescriptions, hospital discharges, and even cause of death findings.

Alzheimer's Disease Medication Increases Risk of Pneumonia?

From the data, the researchers got 5,232 patients prescribed by benzodiazepines which are a class of psychoactive drugs. Meanwhile, there were 3,269 users of Z-drugs which have the same effect as benzos but are non-benzodiazepine drugs as per Medical News Today.

After using various models to adjust variables for the study, the researchers were able to find 30 percent of benzodiazepine users who have high pneumonia risk especially during the first 30 days of taking the sedative. While there has been no found link between pneumonia and Z-drugs, the researchers did not surmise it as safer since the study did no comparisons between benzodiazepines and Z-drugs.

The research follows many studies' observation on how dementia, particularly Alzheimer's disease, is a risk factor for contracting pneumonia. At some cases, it could even lead to a pneumonia-related death.

Since most patients are prescribed with the sedative, researchers tried to look whether the drug may have been a factor to developing pneumonia for the patients. While the researchers have proved its connection on their finding, the study is purely observation thus they do not know what is in the sedatives that could have caused the complication to the inflammatory condition of the lung.

Still, the awareness of the pneumonia risk that is brought by the Alzheimer's disease medication is a reminder for physicians to be more careful on their prescriptions. The report also adds that their findings stress the importance of exploring nonpharmacologic approaches first for neuropsychiatric symptoms.

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