Thursday, 12 December, 2019


Commonly prescribed drugs linked to higher risk of dementia, study finds

Julia Hippisley-Cox MD Julia Hippisley-Cox MD
Patty Aguilar | 26 June, 2019, 09:02

This study was funded by the national institute for Health Research and the research regarding the drugs and dementia was published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

They found an nearly 50 percent higher risk of developing dementia in patients exposed to more than 1,095 daily doses within a 10-year period - the equivalent of taking a strong anticholinergic medication every day for at least three years.

Anticholinergic drugs help contract and relax muscles, and work by blocking acetylcholine, a chemical that transmits messages in the nervous system. The average age of the dementia patients was 82. "The role of anticholinergic drugs in the increased risk of dementia has been a matter of research for long, but this is the first time a study involving thousands of people has been put out with reliable data to prove the same", said Dr J D Mukherji, senior director and head of neurology at Max Super-Specialty Saket.

The glance interesting inspecting info on 284,343 adults in the United Kingdom, ragged 55 and older, between 2004 and 2016.

Healthcare professionals should weigh the risks and benefits of anticholinergics when prescribing the drugs, say the researchers, and should consider using alternative treatments where possible. This is equivalent to the consumption of a strong anticholinergic medication daily by an older adult for almost three years, compared to those with no exposure of this drug.

Among these, the most much of the time prescribed medications were antidepressants, against vertigo medications, and bladder antimuscarinic drugs (for the treatment of overactive bladders).

Coupland said, through a university statement, that "our study adds additional evidence of the potential risks associated with strong anticholinergic drugs, particularly antidepressants, bladder antimuscarinics, Parkinson's drugs, and medications. for epilepsy".

'From this information we can't rule out whether the diseases that cause dementia might have already begun in the brains of people involved before they started taking these drugs, ' he said.

For the study, researchers collected data of a large anonymized health record of 12 years from QResearch. For instance, it only shows an association and not a casual relationship between anticholinergic drugs and increased dementia risk.

The association the researchers found was so strong, they said, that if the drugs were found to be directly causing dementia they could be responsible for 10 per cent of cases.

These outcomes stayed even after the scientists controlled for confounding factors (or realized hazard factors for dementia), including Body Mass index (BMI), smoking status, liquor use, cardiovascular issues, and the utilization of other medicine, for example, antihypertensive drugs. In some cases, "alternative treatments should be considered where possible, such as other types of antidepressants or alternative types of treatment for bladder conditions", she said.

Dementia risk rose overall for people who used anticholinergic drugs, especially for people who had more than 1,095 total standardized daily doses (equivalent to 3 years of using a single medication daily at the minimum effective dose recommended for older people).

"This study provides further evidence that doctors should be careful when prescribing certain drugs that have anticholinergic properties", explains study co-author Prof.

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

Compared to those who are not prescribed anticholinergics, the odds of dementia among those with the lowest exposure to this class of drug were 1.06 higher.

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