Anticholinergic medicines associated with increased risk of dementia, United Kingdom study finds

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Anticholinergic medicines associated with increased risk of dementia, United Kingdom study finds

The use of different types of strong anticholinergic medication - prescribed for a number of conditions as varied as bladder problems, Parkinson's disease and depression - is associated with an increased risk of dementia among those aged 55 years or older, according to a recent study.

The researchers found no significant increases in dementia risk associated with antihistamines, skeletal muscle relaxants, gastrointestinal antispasmodics, antiarrhythmics, or antimuscarinic bronchodilators, but associations were found among other classes of anticholinergic drugs.

The drugs, particularly antidepressants, antiparkinson drugs, antipsychotic drugs, bladder antimuscarinics and antiepileptic medications, were associated with almost "50 percent increased odds of dementia", according to the study published Monday in the peer-reviewed JAMA Internal Medicine journal.

The researchers also took a close look at who was diagnosed with dementia and found that 58,769 of the patients had a dementia diagnosis.

The glance interesting inspecting info on 284,343 adults in the United Kingdom, ragged 55 and older, between 2004 and 2016. The data was provided by QResearch, a large consolidated United Kingdom database.

And they added the associations appeared to be stronger in people diagnosed with dementia before they were 80, suggesting the drugs played a greater role for them. "This is important information for physicians to know when considering whether to prescribe these drugs", she told CNN.

Their findings showed an nearly 50 per cent increased risk of dementia among patients aged 55 and over who had used strong anticholinergic medication daily for three years or more. More specifically, however, anticholinergic antidepressants, antipsychotic drugs, anti-Parkinson's drugs, bladder drugs, and epilepsy drugs were associated with the highest increase in risk. The researchers chanced on the most steadily prescribed anticholinergic medicines were antidepressants, medicines to address vertigo, scuttle illness or vomiting and bladder antimuscarinic medicines, such as to address overactive bladder.

The project was funded by the National Institute for Health Research School for Primary Care Research.

According to the researchers, the study is observational, so no firm conclusions can be drawn about whether these anticholinergic drugs cause dementia. If [people] have concerns, then they should discuss them with their doctor to consider the pros and cons of the treatment they are receiving.

Carol Coupland, a researcher from the University of Nottingham and study lead author, added: "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".

"We propose deprescribing research as a high priority in the effort to reduce the burden of ADRD (Alzheimer disease and related dementias), while also learning about efficient and safe approaches to optimize medication use in older adults", the editorial said.

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.

This is not the first analysis to show a link between anticholinergics and dementia: an observational study past year showed that associations between anticholinergic medications and dementia persisted up to 2 decades after exposure.

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