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Benzodiazepines Cardiac Side Effects

Benzodiazepines Cardiac Side Effects & Blood Pressure, Uses Of The Drug, Health Risks & Addiction Treatment

What Are Benzodiazepines?

A benzodiazepine, or benzo, is a class of drugs used to treat various conditions.  Conditions commonly treated with benzos include insomnia, anxiety, sleep disorders, and even alcohol withdrawal.  In addition, these substances act on the GABA receptors in the brain as they produce a very calming effect.  Unfortunately, benzo addiction can develop in as little as a month.  High-risk patients or those with unstable medical conditions or a significant seizure history may benefit from admission to an inpatient service for benzodiazepine detox or withdrawal.  [1]

Gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA is a naturally occurring amino acid that works as a neurotransmitter in your brain.***

How Do Benzodiazepines Work?

Benzodiazepines are only legally available through prescription. Many users maintain their drug supply by getting prescriptions from several doctors, forging prescriptions, or buying them illicitly. Alprazolam and clonazepam are the two most frequently encountered benzodiazepines on the illicit market.

Benzodiazepines are controlled in Schedule IV of the Controlled Substances Act. [2]

Common Uses For Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are depressants that produce sedation and hypnosis, relieve anxiety and muscle spasms, and reduce seizures.

Benzodiazepines Cardiac Side Effects
Benzodiazepines cardiac side effects are more common if you have a benzo dependency and experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol dependence is an increasing and pervasive problem. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are a part of alcohol dependence syndrome and are commonly encountered in general hospital settings, in most departments. Alcohol withdrawal syndrome ranges from mild to severe. The severe complicated alcohol withdrawal may present with hallucinations, seizures, or delirium tremens. Benzodiazepines have the largest and the best evidence base in the treatment of alcohol withdrawal and are considered the gold standard. [3]

Anxiety

According to Dr. Rosenbaum from the meeting “Utilizing Benzodiazepines in Clinical Practice: An Evidence-Based Discussion” he explained that, from a pharmacologic perspective, benzodiazepines remain the most effective acute antianxiety medications available, despite the perceived risk of abuse or dependence. [4]

Insomnia

 Benzodiazepines that have been approved by the FDA for treating chronic insomnia include estazolam, flurazepam (Dalmane), temazepam (Restoril), quazepam (Doral), and triazolam (Halcion). Rapidly acting drugs with shorter half-lives (i.e., estazolam, triazolam, and temazepam) are preferred. [5]

Muscle Relaxant

Benzodiazepines such as diazepam may also be used short-term as a muscle relaxant. These are generally used to relieve acute painful skeletal muscle spasms, such as what might occur with acute lower back muscle spasms. They are added as an adjunct to rest, physical therapy, and/or heat and ice.

Panic Disorders

According to Healthline, benzodiazepines help treat many kinds of anxiety disorders, including panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and social anxiety disorder. [6] Examples of these drugs include:

  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
  • Clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)

Procedural Sedation

Midazolam (Versed) is the benzodiazepine most frequently used for procedural sedation. It is a short-acting, water-soluble agent which provides reliable anxiolysis, sedation, and amnesia. [7]

Seizures

Benzodiazepines (BZDs) remain important agents in the management of epilepsy. They are drugs of the first choice for status epilepticus and seizures associated with post-anoxic insult and are also frequently used in the treatment of febrile, acute repetitive, and alcohol withdrawal seizures. Clinical advantages of these drugs include rapid onset of action, high efficacy rates, and minimal toxicity. [8]

Benzodiazepines And Blood Pressure

Long-term use of benzodiazepines by ≥60 years old was independently associated with lower diastolic and systolic blood pressure in all parameters of ABPM, but not among younger patients. This is according to the Retrospective Analysis of 4938 ABPMs between 2009 and 2015. [9]

Benzodiazepines Effect On Blood Pressure

Unfortunately, benzodiazepine withdrawal effects from therapeutic dosages of benzos are mainly anxiety symptoms and autonomic instability (i.e., increased heart rate and blood pressure level, tremulousness, diaphoresis), insomnia, and sensory hypersensitivity are common.

Benzodiazepines Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a chronic progressive condition that affects the pumping power of your heart muscle. While often referred to simply as heart failure, CHF specifically refers to the stage in which fluid builds up within the heart and causes it to pump inefficiently.

Researchers have found that the treatment of anxiety with benzodiazepines could improve survival in those with congestive heart failure. They have concluded that CHF patients with CSR experience frequent arousals and that these arousals can be reduced with temazepam. There was an improvement in daytime somnolence. There was no worsening of nighttime oxygen saturation. [10]

Benzodiazepines Cardiac Side Effects
Benzodiazepines cardiac side effects can be fatal without professional healthcare assistance.

Benzodiazepine And Heart Rate

Despite the help and powerful effects of benzodiazepine medications, they also come with adverse effects and withdrawal symptoms when abused or misused. Physiological dependence on benzodiazepines is accompanied by a withdrawal syndrome which is typically characterized by:

  • Irritability
  • Increased tension and anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Hand tremor
  • Sweating
  • Difficulty in concentration
  • Nausea
  • Some weight loss
  • Palpitations
  • Headache
  • Muscular pain and stiffness and a host of perceptual changes

Benzodiazepine withdrawal includes Tachycardia which is the medical term for a heart rate over 100 beats a minute.

Benzodiazepines & Arrhythmias

Several drugs used in the treatment of mental diseases are associated with an increased risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD). An arrhythmia is a problem with the rate or rhythm of your heartbeat. It means that your heart beats too quickly, too slowly, or with an irregular pattern. When the heart beats faster than normal, it is called tachycardia. When the heart beats too slowly, it is called bradycardia. [11]

Intravenous (IV) benzodiazepines can be associated with cardiac and/or respiratory arrest if they are given too rapidly. Other reactions due to IV administration may include cardiac arrhythmias.

Do Benzodiazepines Cause Heart Problems?

Benzo drugs have both benefits and harmful effects such as benzodiazepines cardiac side effects. Benzodiazepines may decrease mortality in congestive heart failure and may lower blood pressure BUT if you take too much of a benzodiazepine, you risk slowing your heart rate to damaging or fatal levels.

Benzodizepine Addiction

Like other drug addiction effects, benzos cause a dopamine discharge aside from the benzodiazepines cardiac side effects.  Dopamine is a chemical contributing to how we feel pleasure.  Over time, these drugs alter the way the brain releases dopamine.  This affects the way people feel euphoria or happiness from all activities.  As a result, people addicted to benzodiazepines can sometimes feel happy unless they take large doses of the drugs.

You should only be prescribed benzodiazepines for the shortest amount of time possible. Taking benzodiazepines regularly for a few weeks or more can lead to addiction. Doctors recommend that you only take them for 2-4 weeks. Intermittent use may help to avoid addiction.

Benzodiazepines Cardiac Side Effects
A person who struggles with some risks of benzodiazepines can begin feeling withdrawal symptoms a few hours after they take the drug.

Clearing benzos from the body and overcoming the benzodiazepines cardiac side effects and withdrawal are the goal of benzo detox, which is the first step of treatment for addiction.

We Level Up has a comprehensive team prescribing medications that can alleviate your withdrawal pains while monitoring your health 24 hours during the detox. We prioritize your safety and comfort because this is a fragile and challenging time for you.

Once detox is complete, a new doorway in treatment opens up, which is referred to as a residential level of care. The residential care program slowly and effectively introduces the individual into an atmosphere of therapeutic growth, marked by master’s level therapists, clinicians, group counselors, psychiatrists, and a community of like-minded individuals with the same aim: to attain sobriety and live a great life.

Some of the many modalities applied and practiced within our residential treatment facility are:

How We Can Help? Searched for “benzodiazepines cardiac side effects treatment?” or are you seeking a national inpatient rehab destination?

We Level Up treatment tailors the program to the individual and the individual to the program of recovery. We begin by assessing our client’s history of mental health, drugs, and alcohol-related past.

The needs of each patient are specific and personalized because we aim to provide comprehensive support for mental health, addiction, and dual diagnosis treatment. The supportive environment is designed accordingly to give patients 24-hour care for sobriety. Most importantly, we hope to have our clients live comfortably within the facility during this crucial and fragile time.

We Level Up prioritizes removing temptations for relapse and applying an air of recovery into every component of the treatment timeline. We Level Up finds that when clients are living in a supportive community, especially during their early recovery process, they can truly focus on what matters most: their recovery.

If you or a loved one is struggling with the risks of benzodiazepines and benzodiazepines cardiac side effects, reach out to We Level Up because we may be able to help you explore treatment options.

Sources:

[1] Management of Benzodiazepine Misuse and Dependence – National Center for Biotechnology Information
[2] Benzodiazepines – Drug Enforcement Administration
[3] Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome: Benzodiazepines and Beyond – National Center for Biotechnology Information
[4] Benzodiazepines: Revisiting Clinical Issues in Treating Anxiety Disorders – National Center for Biotechnology Information
[5] Treatment Options for Insomnia – American Family Physicians https://www.aafp.org/afp/2007/0815/p517.html#:~:text=Benzodiazepines%20that%20have%20been%20approved,%2C%20and%20temazepam)%20are%20preferred.
[6] Benzodiazepines – https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety-drugs#benzodiazepines

[7] Procedural sedation: A review of sedative agents, monitoring, and management of complications – National Center for Biotechnology Information
[8] Benzodiazepines in epilepsy: pharmacology and pharmacokinetics – National Center for Biotechnology Information
[9] Benzodiazepine Consumption Is Associated With Lower Blood Pressure in Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring (ABPM): Retrospective Analysis of 4938 ABPMs – National Center for Biotechnology Information
[10] Benzodiazepines in congestive heart failure: effects of temazepam on arousability and Cheyne-Stokes respiration – National Center for Biotechnology Information
[11] ArrhythmiaU.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Institutes of Health