Drug Safety

, Volume 38, Issue 10, pp 909–919 | Cite as

Benzodiazepine Use and Risk of Developing Alzheimer’s Disease or Vascular Dementia: A Case–Control Analysis

  • Patrick Imfeld
  • Michael Bodmer
  • Susan S. Jick
  • Christoph R. MeierEmail author
Original Research Article



Previous observational studies have associated benzodiazepine use with an increased risk of dementia. However, limitations in the study methods leave questions unanswered regarding the interpretation of the findings.


A case–control analysis was conducted using data from the UK-based Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD). A total of 26,459 patients aged ≥65 years with newly diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or vascular dementia (VaD) between 1998 and 2013 were identified and matched 1:1 to dementia-free controls on age, sex, calendar time, general practice, and number of years of recorded history. Adjusted odds ratios (aORs) were calculated with 95 % confidence intervals (CIs) of developing AD or VaD in relation to previous benzodiazepine use, stratified by duration and benzodiazepine type.


The aOR (95 % CI) of developing AD for those who started benzodiazepines <1 year before diagnosis was 2.20 (1.91–2.53), and fell to the null for those who started between 2 and <3 years before [aOR 0.99 (0.84–1.17)]. The aOR (95 % CI) of developing VaD for those who started benzodiazepines <1 year before diagnosis was 3.30 (2.78–3.92), and fell close to the null for those who started between 3 and <4 years before [aOR 1.16 (0.96–1.40)]. After accounting for benzodiazepine use initiated during this prodromal phase, long-term use of benzodiazepines was not associated with an increased risk of developing AD [aOR 0.69 (0.57–0.85)] or VaD [aOR 1.11 (0.85–1.45)].


After taking a prodromal phase into consideration, benzodiazepine use was not associated with an increased risk of developing AD or VaD.


Dementia Zaleplon Induction Time Prodromal Symptom Diagnosis Date 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors would like to thank Pascal Egger for programming and technical support.

Compliance with Ethical Standards


No funding was received for this study.

Conflicts of interest

Patrick Imfeld, Michael Bodmer, Susan S. Jick, and Christoph R. Meier declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

40264_2015_319_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (14 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 13 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrick Imfeld
    • 1
    • 2
  • Michael Bodmer
    • 1
  • Susan S. Jick
    • 3
  • Christoph R. Meier
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Basel Pharmacoepidemiology Unit, Division of Clinical Pharmacy and Epidemiology, Department of Pharmaceutical SciencesUniversity of BaselBaselSwitzerland
  2. 2.Hospital PharmacyUniversity Hospital BaselBaselSwitzerland
  3. 3.Boston Collaborative Drug Surveillance ProgramBoston University School of Public HealthLexingtonUSA

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