Insomnia drugs for elderly increase auto accident risk.
Benzodiazepines Benzodiazepines Definition
Benzodiazepines are medicines that help relieve nervousness, tension, and other symptoms by slowing the central nervous system.
Benzodiazepines are a type of antianxiety drugs. , sold under more than 30 brand names, are among the most frequently prescribed medications in the elderly. Used to treat anxiety and insomnia, their adverse effects include drowsiness, sedation, confusion, and impaired motor function.
A Canadian study, reported in the July 2 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association is an international peer-reviewed general medical journal, published 48 times per year by the American Medical Association. JAMA is the most widely circulated medical journal in the world. , found a significantly increased risk of auto accidents among drivers over 65 years of age who take these medications. The risk was limited, however, to the use of those benzodiazepines that are not quickly eliminated from the body (those with a so-called long half-life). The use of short half-life benzodiazepines (in which half of the drug is eliminated within 24 hours of being taken) was not associated with this risk.
The study found that the risk of auto accident was almost 50 percent higher during the first week when using a long half-life benzodiazepine benzodiazepine (bĕn'zōdīăz`əpēn'), any of a class of drugs prescribed for their tranquilizing, antianxiety, sedative, and muscle-relaxing effects. Benzodiazepines are also prescribed for epilepsy and alcohol withdrawal. , decreasing only slightly with prolonged use. The significance of this study is reflected in the statistics for our aging population: the elderly are the fastest-growing segment of the population and compose many of our licensed drivers.
Other studies have shown the crash rate for elderly drivers, after adjusting for the number of miles driven, is twice as high as that for middle-age drivers, and is exceeded only by the under-25 age group. Alcohol is not a major risk factor for motor vehicle crashes among elderly drivers, as it is for younger drivers. The frequency and amount of alcohol use decrease with age, as does the decision to drive after using alcohol.
Benzodiazepine use is but one of the many factors that may impair driving and that are more common among older, as opposed to younger, drivers. These include other medications acting on the central nervous system, neurological disorders, musculoskeletal musculoskeletal /mus·cu·lo·skel·e·tal/ (-skel´e-t'l) pertaining to or comprising the skeleton and muscles.
Relating to or involving the muscles and the skeleton. problems, and other medical conditions. However, because benzodiazepine use is so common among the elderly, it is imperative that persons taking the long half-life drugs observe the manufacturers' warning, clearly printed on the package inserts, against driving while using the drug.
Among the more commonly used long half-life benzodiazepine drugs are: clonazepam clonazepam /clo·naz·e·pam/ (klo-naz´e-pam) a benzodiazepine used as an anticonvulsant and as an antipanic agent.
n. (Klonopin), diazepam diazepam /di·az·e·pam/ (di-az´e-pam) a benzodiazepine used as an antianxiety agent, sedative, antipanic agent, antitremor agent, skeletal muscle relaxant, anticonvulsant, and in the management of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. (T-Quil, Valium, Valrelease, Vazepam, Zetran), clorazepate (Gen-XENE, Tranxene-SD, Tranxene T-Tab), chlordiazepoxide chlordiazepoxide /chlor·di·az·ep·ox·ide/ (klor?di-az?e-pok´sid) a benzodiazepine used as the base or hydrochloride salt in the treatment of anxiety disorders and short-term or preoperative anxiety, for alcohol withdrawal, and as an (Librium, Libritabs, Lipoxide), and flurazepam flurazepam /flu·raz·e·pam/ (fldbobr-raz´e-pam) a benzodiazepine used as the hydrochloride salt as a sedative and hypnotic in the treatment of insomnia. (Dalmane). If taking a drug prescribed for anxiety or insomnia not listed here, check with your pharmacist to determine if the drug is a long half-life benzodiazepine.
On September 11 and 12, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA FDA
Food and Drug Administration
n.pr See Food and Drug Administration.
n.pr the abbreviation for the Food and Drug Administration. ) will convene a hearing to gather evidence on possible ways to distinguish the abuse potential 6f different benzodiazepines. These and related drugs are among the most widely prescribed pharmaceuticals in the United States for persons of all ages and are used extensively to relieve anxiety, and as sedatives, muscle relaxants, and sleeping pills. Because of these drugs' capacity to produce physical and psychological dependence, the FDA is concerned about their misuse and what is needed to prevent abuse.