The Mayo Clinic tells us that habits and traits familiar to many Americans appear to contribute to occurrences of dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease: smoking, vascular risk factors, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. The typical American diet. But there is some evidence that some common medications may also boost the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Consider anticholinergics. They are a type of medication that blocks the action of acetylcholine, a chemical messenger in the brain that help drive breathing, digestion, urination and other functions, explains Considerable’s recent article entitled “These common prescription drugs might boost your dementia risk.”
These include drugs for depression (like Paxil), psychosis (like Thorazine), Parkinson’s disease (such as Cogentin) and bladder disorders (such as Ditropan).
The study found a nearly 50% increase in chances of dementia among people who received more than 1,095 daily doses of these drugs within a 10-year period— equivalent to a senior taking a strong anticholinergic medication daily for at least three years.
The research, which was published in JAMA Internal Medicine, the University of Nottingham study tracked 284,343 patients age 55 and older between 2004 and 2016.
The researchers analyzed total standardized daily doses (TSDDs) of anticholinergic drugs during that time period.
The University of Nottingham researchers identified each adult’s anticholinergic exposure and saw that the most frequently prescribed anticholinergic drugs were antidepressants, drugs to treat vertigo, motion sickness or vomiting and an overactive bladder.
However, there were some other anticholinergic antihistamines, and gastrointestinal drugs that did not show a connection to a higher incidence of dementia, the researchers said.
While the study shows a correlation between these specific anticholinergic drugs and increased dementia odds, the researchers cautioned that seniors should not discontinue taking any medications without talking with their physician.
Reference: Considerable (Feb. 21, 2020) “These common prescription drugs might boost your dementia risk”