Published: Wed, June 26, 2019
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Commonly prescribed drugs may up dementia risk

Commonly prescribed drugs may up dementia risk

The new study, published yesterday in JAMA Internal Medicine, found that anticholinergics could raise a person's risk of developing dementia.

Doctors often prescribe anticholinergic drugs for a variety of ills.

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 almost a 50% increased risk of dementia among patients aged 55 and over who had used strong anticholinergic medication daily for three years or more.

Doctors prescribe anticholinergic drugs to treat conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bladder conditions, allergies, gastrointestinal disorders and symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Of the records they analyzed, the average age of patients was 82 and about 63 percent of them were women.

On the other hand, relevant antidepressants, antiparkinson drugs, antipsychotics, bladder antimuscarinic drugs, and antiepileptic drugs all didn't demonstrate any significant increases in dementia risk.

New research by scientists from the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom has analyzed the connection between a specific class of drugs and the danger of dementia.

The study had some limitations, including that some patients may not have taken their prescribed medication as directed, so anticholinergic exposure levels could have been misclassified. They assessed prescriptions of 56 drugs with strong anticholinergic properties according to the American Geriatrics Society Beers Criteria Update Expert Panel and calculated cumulative anticholinergic exposure.

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'Current guidelines for doctors say that anticholinergic drugs should be avoided for frail older people due to their impact on memory and thinking, but doctors should consider these new findings for all middle aged and older people as long-term use could raise the risk of dementia'. The ideas came from QResearch, a tall database of anonymized health info. All the more explicitly, in any case, anticholinergic antidepressants, antipsychotic drugs, against Parkinson's medications, bladder medications, and epilepsy medications were related with the most elevated increment in hazard.

The study was observational, so could not prove that the drugs cause dementia. Anticholinergic Drug Exposure and the Risk of Dementia.

Quoted in a report in BBC, it was further stated that the cause for this being the medicines prescribed in these cases belong to a family of drugs known as anticholinergics.

Adds Dening, "It's important that patients taking medications of this kind don't just stop them abruptly as this may be much more harmful".

"Moreover, deprescribing trials can evaluate attainable harms of stopping anticholinergic medicines, such as worsening indicators of depression, incontinence, or wretchedness, as well to the aptitude unintended develop larger in acute health care utilization", Campbell, Holden and Boustani wrote in the editorial. For example, it's possible that the drugs were prescribed to dementia patients to help treat very early symptoms of the disease.

"The risks of this type of medication should be carefully considered by healthcare professionals alongside the benefits when the drugs are prescribed and alternative treatments should be considered where possible, such as other types of antidepressants or alternative types of treatment for bladder conditions", said Carol Coupland, a professor at University of Nottingham. If patients have concerns, they should consult with their doctor to consider the pros and cons of the treatment they receive.

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