New use of benzodiazepines may increase the risk of adverse respiratory outcomes in older adults with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to research published online April 17 in the European Respiratory Journal.
Nicholas T. Vozoris, MD, of the University of Toronto, and colleagues conducted a retrospective population-based cohort study involving adults aged ≥66 years of age with COPD. The authors sought to assess the association between new benzodiazepine use and respiratory outcomes.
The researchers found that adults with COPD who were new users of benzodiazepines were at significantly greater risk, compared with non-users, for outpatient respiratory exacerbations (relative risk [RR], 1.45; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.36–1.54) and emergency room visits for COPD or pneumonia (RR, 1.92; 95% CI, 1.69–2.18). Benzodiazepine users also had a nonsignificantly greater risk of hospitalization for COPD or pneumonia (RR, 1.09; 95% CI, 1.00–1.20). Intensive care unit admissions did not differ between the groups.
“The findings suggest that decisions to use benzodiazepines in older patients with COPD need to consider potential adverse respiratory outcomes,” the authors write.