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Will Klonopin increase my risk of Alzheimers?

  • anonymous Asks ...

    There is a history of early onset Alzheimer’s in my family. I have anxiety problems and am prescribed clonazepam to take as needed when I feel panic but I am concerned about how this could have a long term impact on my memory. Will this drug increase my risks for Alzheimer’s in any way shape or form?

  • Dr. Stuart Shipko Says ...
    Dr. Stuart Shipko

    It is not definitive, but it looks like benzodiazepines might increase the risk of dementia.  The short term effects of Klonopin and other benzodiazepines are well known, and memory impairment is a common side effect of this category of drug.  The studies which look at whether benzodiazepines are associated with a higher risk of Alzheimer's have been performed in elderly populations and are not definitive.  In one prospective study that looked at patients with an average age of 78, it was found that the patients who started benzodiazepines had a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's, but the authors also questioned whether the reason that the patients were put on the drugs related to early symptoms of dementia.  In another study, individuals over 65 were studied and it was found that the risk of dementia was higher in patients who had previously taken benzodiazepines, but that it was not higher in current users.  Your question is whether there is any information that supports this possibility, and the answer is yes, but the association has not been definitively proven.

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