Drugs with anticholinergic properties are frequently prescribed for anxiety, depression, and certain types of pain or purchased over the counter for conditions including allergies or sleep problems.
The JAMA Internal Medicine commentary by Regenstrief Institute research scientists Noll Campbell, PharmD, M.S., a geriatric pharmacy researcher; Richard Holden, PhD, a human factors engineer and social-cognitive psychologist; and Malaz Boustani, M.D., MPH, a geriatrician and implementation scientist, call for randomized deprescribing trials to address anticholinergic drug use as a potentially modifiable and reversible risk factor for dementia, a growing public health issue.
Call - Award - National - Institute - Aging
That call was recently answered by a $3.3 million award from the National Institute on Aging to Dr. Campbell and colleagues to study whether there is a cause and effect relationship between this drug class and cognitive impairment.
If a causal link between anticholinergic medications and dementia is confirmed, changing from an anticholinergic to another drug would be less difficult than many other interventions known to modify dementia risk such as increasing physical activity, controlling diabetes, or decreasing blood pressure.
Research - Scientists - Step - Drugs - Cause
The three research scientists say that the next and definitive step to determine whether anticholinergic drugs cause dementia is to conduct long-term randomized deprescribing trials -- decreasing or eliminating use of these very common medications -- as they will be doing later this year, to see if cholinergic neurotransmission in the areas of the brain related to cognitive performance can be improved, ultimately reducing the risk of developing dementia or delaying onset.
Anticholinergics effect the brain by blocking acetylcholine, a nervous system neurotransmitter. These drugs are used by as many as half of older adults and it is not unusual for an older individual to be taking two or more anticholinergic medications regularly.
Risk - Factors - Studies - Way
"Though we learn about potential risk factors through observational studies, the best way...
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