Certain Sedatives Tied to Breathing Problems in Older COPD Patients04/18/14
FRIDAY, April 18, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A group of widely
used sedatives increases the risk of serious breathing problems in
older people with the lung condition called chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease (COPD), a new study says.
Benzodiazepines such as lorazepam (Ativan) or alprazolam (Xanax)
are commonly prescribed to treat insomnia and anxiety, the study
For the study, researcher Dr. Nicholas Vozoris examined the
medical records of older adults with COPD in the Canadian province
of Ontario. Those who had been newly prescribed a benzodiazepine
had a 45 percent increased risk of experiencing breathing problems
that required outpatient treatment.
These patients also had a 92 percent greater risk of needing to
go to the emergency room for treatment of pneumonia or COPD, and
were more likely to be hospitalized for breathing problems,
according to the study published online April 17 in the
European Respiratory Journal.
The findings were consistent even after the severity of
patients' COPD was taken into account, said Vozoris, a
respirologist at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto.
"Physicians, when prescribing these pills, need to be careful, use caution and monitor the patients for respiratory side effects," Vozoris said in a hospital news release. "Patients also need to watch for respiratory-related symptoms."
Previous research by Vozoris found that 30 percent of older
Canadians with COPD are prescribed benzodiazepines.
While the study found an association between sedative
prescriptions and higher risk of breathing problems in older adults
with COPD, it did not establish a cause-and-effect
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more
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