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Background Benzodiazepine use in older adults following acute ischemic stroke (AIS) is common, yet short-term safety concerning falls or fall-related injuries remains unexplored. Methods We emulated a hypothetical randomized trial of benzodiazepine use during the acute post stroke recovery period to assess incidence of falls or fall related injuries in older adults. Using linked data from the Get With the Guidelines Registry and Mass General Brigham’s electronic health records, we selected patients aged 65 and older admitted for Acute Ischemic Stroke (AIS) between 2014 and 2021 with no documented prior stroke and no benzodiazepine prescriptions in the previous 3 months. Potential for immortal-time and confounding biases was addressed via separate inverse-probability weighting strategies. Results The study included 495 patients who initiated inpatient benzodiazepines within three days of admission and 2,564 who did not. After standardization, the estimated 10-day risk of falls or fall-related injuries was 694 events per 1000 (95% confidence interval CI: 676-709) for the benzodiazepine initiation strategy and 584 events per 1000 (95% CI: 575-595) for the non-initiation strategy. Subgroup analyses showed risk differences of 142 events per 1000 (95% CI: 111-165) and 85 events per 1000 (95% CI: 64-107) for patients aged 65 to 74 years and for those aged 75 years or older, respectively. Risk differences were 187 events per 1000 (95% CI: 159-206) for patients with minor (NIHSS= 4) AIS and 32 events per 1000 (95% CI: 10-58) for those with moderate-to-severe AIS. Conclusions Initiating inpatient benzodiazepines within three days of AIS is associated with an elevated 10-day risk of falls or fall-related injuries, particularly for patients aged 65 to 74 years and for those with minor strokes. This underscores the need for caution with benzodiazepines, especially among individuals likely to be ambulatory during the acute and sub-acute post-stroke period.


Sun, Shuo, Victor Lomachinsky, Louisa H. Smith, Joseph P. Newhouse, M. Brandon Westover, Deborah Blacker, Lee Schwamm, Sebastien Haneuse, Lidia M.V.R. Moura. "Benzodiazepine Initiation and the Risk of Falls or Fall-Related Injuries in Older Adults Following Acute Ischemic Stroke." February 6, 2024.