A bad break for sleeping pills?

Nursing home residents who use a non-benzodiazepine hypnotic drug as a sleep aid—including Ambien, Lunesta, Sonata and others—may increase their risk of hip fractures by 70 percent, according to Sarah Berry, MD, who presented the preliminary research at this week’s American Society for Bone and Mineral Research annual meeting.

The study analyzed more than 1 million Medicare beneficiaries, tracking the possible relationships between hip fractures and the use of sleep aids. The use of non-benzodiazepines has increased since 2006, when Medicare Part D began to restrict tranditional benzodiazepines, according to an on-site report by MedPage Today.

The highest risk group had a basic profile of being female, white, about 81 years old, and having little or no cognitive impariment, according to the report.

But insomnia may be a no-win situation, since residents with sleep disturbances seem to have high fall risks whether the condition is treated with non-benzodiazepines, traditional benzodiazepines or is not treated at all, Berry noted.

“Patients in nursing homes being treated for insomnia should be carefully monitored for falls and osteoporosis, particularly those at risk such as new users and patients with milder cognitive impairment. In addition, restrictive policies on benzodiazepines should be carefully considered," she concluded.

Read the on-site coverage from the ASBMR meeting in MedPage Today.

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