HealthDay News — New use of benzodiazepines may increase the risk of adverse respiratory outcomes in older adults with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to researchers.

In order to assess the link between new benzodiazepine use and respiratory outcomes, Nicholas T. Vozoris, MD, of the University of Toronto, and colleagues conducted a retrospective population-based cohort study involving patients aged 66 years and older. Their findings were published in the European Respiratory Journal.

Patients who were new users of benzodiazepines were at significantly greater risk, compared with non-users, for outpatient respiratory exacerbations (relative risk, 1.45; 95% 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.

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“The findings suggest that decisions to use benzodiazepines in older patients with COPD need to consider potential adverse respiratory outcomes,” wrote the authors.