Commonly prescribed drugs could increase the risk of dementia, says a new study

medicalxpress.com | 4/26/2018 | Staff
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The study, carried out by experts from the University of Nottingham and funded by the NIHR School for Primary Care Research, found that there was nearly a 50% increased risk of dementia among patients aged 55 and over who had used strong anticholinergic medication daily for three years or more.

Anticholinergic drugs help to contract and relax muscles. They work by blocking acetylcholine, a chemical that transmits messages in the nervous system.

Doctors - Drugs - Variety - Conditions - Disease

Doctors prescribe the drugs to treat a variety of conditions, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bladder conditions, allergies, gastrointestinal disorders and symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

These medicines can have short-term side effects, including confusion and memory loss, but it is less certain whether long-term use increases the risk of dementia.

Research - JAMA - Internal - Medicine - Journal

The research, published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal and led by Professor Carol Coupland from the University's Division of Primary Care, looked at the medical records of 58,769 patients with a diagnosis of dementia and 225,574 patients without a diagnosis of dementia, all aged 55 and over and registered with UK GPs contributing data to the QResearch database, between 1 January 2004 and 31 January 2016.

The study findings showed increased risks of dementia for anticholinergic drugs overall and specifically for the anticholinergic antidepressants, antipsychotic drugs, antiparkinsons drugs, bladder drugs and epilepsy drugs after accounting for other risk factors for dementia.

Risks - Types - Drug - Antihistamines - Drugs

No increased risks were found for the other types of anticholinergic drug studied such as antihistamines and gastrointestinal drugs.

Professor Tom Dening, Head of the Centre for Dementia at the University of Nottingham and a member of the research study team, said: "This study provides further evidence that doctors should be careful when prescribing certain drugs that have anticholinergic properties. However, it's important that patients taking medications of this kind don't just stop them abruptly as this may be much more harmful. If...
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