A study from the University of California San Francisco has shed light on how sleep medications might differently affect the risk of dementia in people who are white compared to those who are Black.
This research adds to the growing understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, particularly how risk factors and disease manifestations may vary across different racial groups.
The Study’s Findings
Researchers used data from the Health, Aging and Body Composition study, involving approximately 3,000 older adults without dementia.
Participants were observed over an average of nine years. During the study, about 20% of the participants developed dementia.
Racial Differences in Sleep Medication Use and Dementia Risk
Higher Use Among White Participants: The study found that white participants were more likely to use sleep medications than their Black counterparts.
Increased Dementia Risk: White participants who frequently used sleep medications had a 79% higher risk of developing dementia compared to those who used these medications less often.
Variation in Medication Types: The use of specific types of sleep medications, such as benzodiazepines and “Z-drugs” like Ambien, was notably higher among white participants.
Implications and Considerations
Further Research Needed: The study suggests that more research is needed to understand the cognitive risks associated with sleep medications and how race may influence these effects.
Alternative Approaches to Sleep Issues: Given these findings, individuals experiencing sleep problems might want to consider non-medication approaches before turning to sleep medications.
This study highlights the importance of understanding how different factors, including race and medication use, can influence the risk of dementia.
As we learn more about these complex relationships, healthcare providers and patients can make more informed decisions about managing sleep issues and potentially reducing dementia risk.
The research, conducted by Yue Leng and colleagues, was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and offers valuable insights into the nuanced nature of dementia risk factors.
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