Everyday drugs raise the risk of dementia

Science has linked anticholinergic drugs with cognitive impairment and an increased risk of dementia

Science has linked anticholinergic drugs with cognitive impairment and an increased risk of dementia

Thus, if someone had a baseline 10% risk of developing dementia in any given year, that risk would increase to 13% with the long-term use of these anticholinergic medications, according to Savva. More broadly, there was a link between the use of any prescribed antidepressant, antiparkinson, or urologic drug with an anticholinergic activity burden (ACB) score of 3 (i.e. they can cross the blood brain barrier, have definite anticholinergic activity).

So a research team led by George Savva at the University of East Anglia, set out to estimate the association between duration and level of exposure to different classes of anticholinergic drugs and subsequent dementia.

Global Positioning System should consider the risks in prescribing anticholinergic drugs long-term as they may increase the risk of dementia, a study has suggested.

They found greater incidence of dementia among patients prescribed anticholinergic antidepressants, anticholinergic bladder medications and anticholinergic Parkinson's disease medications than among older adults who were not prescribed these drugs. Conversely, the use of gastrointestinal drugs (ACB score 1 or 3) and cardiovascular drugs (ACB score 1) was linked to a minor reduction in dementia risk.

Some other anticholinergic medicines that are used for treating hay fever, travel sickness, and stomach cramps are not connected with the increase of risk in dementia.

To examine these associations, researchers used multiple conditional logistic regression to evaluate patients with a new diagnosis of dementia and compared their anticholinergic drug use 4-20 years before diagnosis; they were then matched to a control group without dementia. It could be that these medications are being prescribed for very early symptoms indicating the onset of dementia.

In the United Kingdom, 34 to 48 percent of older adults take them. "Not taking prescribed drugs could have serious consequences". Of the controls, 30 percent were prescribed at least one anticholinergic drug; of the cases, 35 percent were.

The researchers, who report their findings in the British Medical Journal, investigated GP records for more than 40,000 people over the age of 65 with dementia and almost 300,000 without dementia. "Don't stop taking your medication".

Anticholinergic anti-depressants include Amitriptyline, Dosulepin, and Paroxetine, said the researchers who had compared the medical records of 40,770 dementia patients older than 65 to those of 283,933 people without dementia.

The researchers, led by the University of East Anglia, stop short of claiming that the drugs cause dementia. They conclude that clinicians should be vigilant with respect to anticholinergic drugs and should consider long-term cognitive effects.

But particularly as treatment options for many conditions increase, the study adds more weight to the notion that physicians should be proactive about identifying alternatives to anticholinergic medications whenever possible, according to Dr. Chris Fox, a clinical senior lecturer at Norwich Medical School and a lead author on the study.

"We don't know exactly how anticholinergics might cause dementia". This type of study imagines that patients actually take their drugs as they were prescribed for them. The warning to not use anticholinergic drugs in Parkinson's disease is also important. Speaking to the BBC, Dr Ian Maidment from Aston University said it was important for people not to panic. "In the meantime, I strongly advise patients with any concerns to continue taking their medicines until they have consulted their doctor or pharmacist".

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