Widely Prescribed Class of Meds Might Raise Dementia Risk

Julia Hippisley-Cox MD

Julia Hippisley-Cox MD

Patients 55 or older who take anticholinergic drugs daily face increased risk of dementia, according to a new study.

"However, if this association is causal, the population-attributable fractions indicate that around 10% of dementia diagnoses are attributable to anticholinergic drug exposure, which would equate, for example, to around 20,000 of the 209,600 new cases of dementia per year in the United Kingdom", the researchers stated in the study.

Their impact is to help unwind or contract muscles, and specialists can recommend them to help treat bladder conditions, gastrointestinal issues, and a portion of the indications of Parkinson's disease.

"This study provides further evidence that doctors should be careful when prescribing certain drugs that have anticholinergic properties", Tom Dening, one of the authors and head of the Center for Dementia at the University of Nottingham, said in a press release.

All things considered, the specialists inferred that individuals matured 55 or over who had taken solid anticholinergics regularly for in any event 3 years had a practically half higher shot of creating dementia than individuals who had not utilized this sort of medication.

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She said that people taking these medications are advised not to stop them without consulting with their doctor first, as that could be harmful.

In the study, researchers examined medical records of almost 59,000 patients in the United Kingdom with dementia, as well as a control group of more than 225,574 patients without the diagnosis.

Reference: Carol A.C. Coupland, et al. The ideas came from QResearch, a tall database of anonymized health info. For physicians, this is a significant information to have when considering whether or not to prescribe these drugs.

The findings reveal that the risk of developing dementia increased from 6 per cent in the lowest overall anticholinergic exposure category to 49 per cent in the group exposed to daily anticholinergics for three years or more, while compared to no anticholinergic drug prescriptions in the 1-11 years before the index date.

Researchers studied more than 280,000 people in the United Kingdom to work out how the medicines affected dementia risk.

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"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". They are prescribed to treat a variety of conditions including, allergies, gastrointestinal disorders, bladder conditions, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

According to the researchers, the study is observational, so no firm conclusions can be drawn about whether these anticholinergic drugs cause dementia.

The study was funded by the National Institute for Health Research. If patients have concerns, they should consult with their doctor to consider the pros and cons of the treatment they receive.

To survey the quality of anticholinergic drugs and how frequently the members took them, the group took a gander at accessible data about medicines over a time of 10 years.

The called the study "well-conducted" and "robust" and said it made useful findings which added to existing work on dementia.

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"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.

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