According to a recently published research study, nursing home residents taking non-benzodiazepine sleep medications are more likely to suffer hip fractures than residents not taking those medications.
In a study published online in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers analyzed the medicines taken by more than 15,000 nursing home residents who had suffered hip fractures between July 2007 and December 2008, OnMedica.com reports. Non-benzodiazepine hypnotic sleep medications—such as Ambien, Lunesta, and Sonata—had been used by 1,715 (11%) of these residents in the 29 days before their hip fracture. The use of these medications was associated with an overall increase in risks for hip fractures of 66% compared with the risks for people who had not recently taken these medicines.
The increased risk of hip fracture is also associated with other factors in nursing home residents lives that make them more vulnerable to side effects. 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.
In their conclusions, OnMedica reports, the study’s authors advise 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 warn.