Prescription drugs linked to increased dementia risk

Prescription drugs linked to increased dementia risk from Mercola

While the link between anticholinergic drugs and an increased risk of dementia isn’t new, researchers have now pinpointed certain classes of drugs where the link is the strongest. In a study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers wrote “there was nearly a 50% increased odds of dementia” associated with a total anticholinergic exposure of more than 1,095 daily doses over a time period of 10 years. To put that into perspective, it’s the equivalent of an older adult taking a strong anticholinergic medication every day for at least three years.

Researchers analyzed data on 284,343 adults in the U.K., aged 55 and older, between 2004 and 2016. They identified each adult’s anticholinergic exposure based on their prescription details and found the most frequently prescribed anticholinergics were antidepressants, drugs to treat vertigo, motion sickness or vomiting and drugs to treat overactive bladder. They also found that 58,769 of the patients had been diagnosed with dementia. The study showed that compared to those who had not taken anticholinergic drugs, the chances of dementia increased from 1.06 among those with the lowest exposure to the drugs to 1.49 among those with the highest exposure.

Researchers found the link was the strongest with antidepressants, bladder antimuscarinics, antipsychotics and antiepileptic drugs. Carol Coupland, first author of the study, said, “The study is important because it strengthens a growing body of evidence showing that strong anticholinergic drugs have long-term associations with dementia risk.” She added, “It also highlights which types of anticholinergic drugs have the strongest associations. This is important information for physicians to know when considering whether to prescribe these drugs.”

While it is not advisable to stop taking a medication without talking to your doctor, if you are on an anticholinergic due to need, there may be an alternative medication that is not an anticholinergic that may work. All medications come with a list of possible side effects, but the evidence of a link between anticholinergic drugs and dementia continues to grow. Consider talking to your physician about natural treatments to help with conditions like depression, motion sickness and an overactive bladder.

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