"What we now need to focus on is, how can we get people off these drugs?"

Ian Maidment, PhD, sat with NeurologyLive at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease in Chicago, Illinois, to talk about the findings of the ZED study, which looked into the use of hypnotic Z-drugs—such as zolpidem, zopiclone, and zaleplon—in elderly patients with dementia.

The senior lecturer in Clinical Pharmacy at Aston University spoke about how these patients, who are already at a risk for falls and fractures, have an added risk when administered these therapies, which themselves have not been completely evaluated for safety and efficacy. Using the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink analysis included 6922 people with dementia and with sleep disturbance and 3102 prescribed Z-drugs followed for up to 2 years. The analyses included 3057 patients with dementia, of which 374 used Z-drugs, all followed for up to 11 years. Ultimately, the trial found an increase in risk for both fractures in general and hip fractures was essentially doubled when patients were on Z-drugs.

Maidment detailed how his work could lead to improved care outcomes and quality of life, reduced hospital admissions, mortality, and institutionalization for people who have dementia with sleep disturbance and their caregivers, as the findings provide a better understanding of the consequences of Z-drugs. Given that approximately 60% of people with dementia experience sleep disturbance, including insomnia and excessive daytime sleeping, this understanding is a welcome one.