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Benzodiazepines were associated with an increased risk of, and mortality from, community acquired pneumonia (CAP), according to a report published online in the journal Thorax. British researchers looked at 29,697 controls and 4,964 cases of CAP from The Health Improvement Network, a U.K. primary care patient database, to investigate a reported link between benzodiazepines and pneumonia.

They found that diazepam, lorazepam, and temazepam, but not chlordiazepoxide, were associated with an increased incidence of CAP. As a class, benzodiazepines were associated with increased 30-day and long-term mortality in patients with a prior diagnosis of CAP. Individually diazepam, chlordiazepoxide, lorazepam, and temazepam affected long-term mortality in these patients.

“Benzodiazepines and zopiclone are commonly prescribed medications that have significant immune effects, the researchers said. “Our data…suggest that they may increase both the risk of and mortality from pneumonia. This is consistent with data from clinical trials and concerns expressed over the intensive care unit effects of these drugs leading to movement away from benzodiazepine sedation. Nonetheless, given the widespread use of benzodiazepine drugs, further studies are required to evaluate their safety in the context of infection.”

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