Ambien among sleeping pills that increase risk of hip fracture, study suggests

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The class of sleeping medications thought to be safer for nursing home residents than traditional anti-anxiety drugs puts them at a 70% increased risk for hip fracture, a study found.

Following a Medicare Part D change in 2006, physicians started prescribing sleeping pills such as Ambien, Lunesta and Sonata for nursing home residents with insomnia instead of older benzodiazepines, according to researchers from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. The newer sleeping pills were thought to be safer for residents than benzodiazepine hypnotics, researchers noted.

But in a study of 26,618 nursing home residents who had lived in their facilities for at least six months before having a hip fracture, those taking non-benzodiazepine hypnotics had a 70% increased risk for a fracture, MedPage reported. Additionally, the risk was even higher in residents with little or no cognitive impairment compared to those with significant cognitive impairment.

“Restrictive policies on benzodiazepines should be carefully considered," said Sarah Berry, M.D., of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

The findings were presented over the weekend at the annual meeting of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, which was held in Minneapolis.

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