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Long-Term Benzodiazepines Do Not Up Mortality in COPD, PTSD

No difference in mortality, but risk for suicide elevated with long-term benzodiazepine use


WEDNESDAY, Oct. 17, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- For patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and comorbid posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), long-term benzodiazepine use is not associated with mortality, but there is an association for short-term benzodiazepine use, according to a study published online Oct. 12 in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

Lucas M. Donovan, M.D., from the Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System in Seattle, and colleagues examined the mortality risks of long-term benzodiazepine exposure among 44,555 patients with COPD and PTSD identified within the Veterans Health Administration during 2010 to 2012. Overall and cause-specific mortality of patients with long-term (≥90 days) benzodiazepine use was assessed relative to matched patients who did not use benzodiazepines.

The researchers found that 23.6 percent of patients received benzodiazepines long term. In the matched sample of 19,552 patients, there was no difference in mortality (hazard ratio for long-term use, 1.06; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.95 to 1.18), but the risk for suicide was elevated among those with long-term use (hazard ratio, 2.33; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.14 to 4.79). Short-term, but not long-term, use was associated with increased mortality among matched and unmatched patients (short-term: hazard ratio, 1.16; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.05 to 1.28; long-term: hazard ratio, 1.03; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.94 to 1.13).

"Although long-term benzodiazepine use among patients with COPD and PTSD is not linked with overall mortality, the association with suicide is concerning," Donovan said in a statement.

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