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Benzodiazepine Use and Cognitive Decline in Elderly With Normal Cognition

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Benzodiazepine (BZD) use may be associated with dementia. However, differing opinions exist regarding the effect of BZDs on long-term changes in cognition. We evaluated the association between BZD use and cognitive decline in the elderly with normal cognition from the National Alzheimer’s Disease Coordinating Center’s Uniform Data Set. The study exposure, BZD use, was classified 2 ways: any-use [reported BZD use at a minimum of 1 Alzheimer's disease center (ADC) visit] and always-use (reported BZD use at all ADC visits). The reference group included participants without any declared BZD use at any Alzheimer's Disease Center (ADC) visit. The main outcome measures were Clinical Dementia Rating Sum of Boxes score and Mini-Mental State Examination score. We observed a decline in cognitive status over time in the 2 comparison groups. All participants who reported taking BZDs had poorer cognitive performance at all visits than nonusers. However, cognitive decline was statistically similar among all participants. We found no evidence of an association between BZD use and cognitive decline. The poor cognitive performance in BZD users may be due to prodromal symptoms caused by preclinical dementia processes.
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Keywords: Clinical Dementia Rating Sum of Boxes; Mini-Mental State Examination; benzodiazepines; cognitive decline; elderly

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Departments of Biostatistics, Department of Health Statistics, School of Public Health, Fourth Military Medical University, Xi’an, China 2: Departments of Biostatistics, HSR &D VA Puget Sound Health Care System, National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center, Seattle, WA 3: National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center, Seattle, WA, Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Washington 4: Departments of Biostatistics, National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center, Seattle, WA

Publication date: April 1, 2016

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