A new study published online in JAMA Internal Medicine reports that nursing home residents taking non-benzodiazepine sleep medications are more likely to suffer hip fractures than residents not taking those medications.
Researchers analyzed the medicines taken by 15,528 long-term nursing home residents who had suffered hip fractures between July 2007 and December 2008. Non-benzodiazepine hypnotic sleep medications, such as Ambien, Lunesta, and Sonata, had been used by 1,715 (11%) of those residents in the 29 days before their hip fracture, said OnMedica.com. The use of these medications was associated with an overall increase in risks for hip fractures of 66% compared with the risk for people who had not recently taken these medicines.
The study noted that the increased risk of hip fracture is also associated with other factors that make nursing home residents more vulnerable to the side effects of sleep medications. OnMedica reports that the association with fracture risk was stronger for newer users of the non-benzodiazepine medications and the risk was also greater for those with moderate to severe cognitive impairment and those with moderate functional impairment, who require assistance in moving from bed, for instance.
The study’s authors advise medical professionals to use caution in prescribing sleep medications for nursing home residents. “The risk for hip fracture is elevated among nursing home residents using a non-benzodiazepine hypnotic drug. New users and residents having mild to moderate cognitive impairment or requiring limited assistance with transfers may be most vulnerable to the use of these drugs. Caution should be exercised when prescribing sleep medications to nursing home residents,” the researchers warned, OnMedica.com reported.