SAN DIEGO -- Obesity appears to significantly increase the risk of death tied to sleeping pills, nearly doubling the rate of mortality even among those prescribed 18 or fewer pills in a year, researchers reported Friday.
"Obesity emerged as a marker of increased vulnerability," said Robert Langer, M.D., M.P.H., at the annual American Heart Association's Epidemiology and Prevention | Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2012 Scientific Sessions in San Diego.
"The associations between sleeping pills and increased mortality were present, and relatively stronger, even in people aged 18 to 54," said Dr. Langer, a family physician and epidemiologist with the Jackson Hole Center for Preventive Medicine in Jackson, Wyo.
"Obese patients appear particularly vulnerable, perhaps through interaction with sleep apnea," said study co-author Daniel Kripke, M.D., a psychiatrist with Scripps Clinic's Viterbi Family Sleep Center in San Diego.
He noted that sleeping pills were previously associated with more and longer pauses in breathing in people with sleep apnea.
Among obese patients, use of sleeping pills was associated with about one extra death per year for every 100 people who were prescribed the medications, Dr. Langer said.
Additionally, men who took sleeping pills were about twice as likely to die as women who received the medications, after accounting for other factors, he said.
Friday's findings were the latest to emerge from a Scripps Clinic-led study of almost 40,000 patients, which was initially published in late February in the open-access online journal BMJ Open.
(View the paper here: http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/2/1/e000850.full)
The research was the first to show that eight of the most commonly used hypnotic drugs were associated with increased hazards of mortality and cancer, including the popularly pres
|Contact: Keith Darce|