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Risks of Benzodiazepines in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease with Comorbid Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.

Donovan LM, Malte CA, Spece LJ, Griffith MF, Feemster LC, Engelberg RA, Au DH, Hawkins EJ. Risks of Benzodiazepines in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease with Comorbid Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Annals of the American Thoracic Society. 2019 Jan 1; 16(1):82-90.

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RATIONALE: Benzodiazepines are associated with mortality and poor outcomes among patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), but use of benzodiazepines for dyspnea among patients with end-stage disease may confound this relationship. OBJECTIVES: Assess the mortality risks of long-term benzodiazepine exposure among patients with COPD and comorbid post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), patients with chronic nonrespiratory indications for benzodiazepines. METHODS: We identified all patients with COPD and PTSD within the Veteran''s Health Administration between 2010 and 2012. We calculated propensity scores for benzodiazepine use and compared overall and cause-specific mortality of patients with long-term ( = 90 d) benzodiazepine use relative to matched patients without use. Secondary analyses assessed propensity-adjusted survival by characteristics of benzodiazepine exposure. RESULTS: Among 44,555 eligible patients with COPD and PTSD, 23.6% received benzodiazepines long term. In the matched sample of 19,552 patients, we observed no mortality difference (hazard ratio [HR] for long-term use, 1.06; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.95-1.18) but greater risk of death by suicide among those with long-term use (HR, 2.33; 95% CI, 1.14-4.79). Among matched and unmatched patients, short-term benzodiazepine use, but not long-term use, was associated with increased mortality (short-term: HR, 1.16; 95% CI, 1.05-1.28; long-term: HR, 1.03; 95% CI, 0.94-1.13). CONCLUSIONS: Risks for respiratory compromise related to long-term benzodiazepine use in COPD may be less than previously estimated, but short-term use of benzodiazepines could still pose a mortality risk. Suicide associated with benzodiazepine use in this population warrants further investigation.

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