In a recent study, researchers found that drugs routinely prescribed for allergies, heart disease and Parkinson’s are linked to higher stroke risk.
The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Aberdeen.
Many commonly prescribed drugs are known to have so-called anticholinergic properties.
It can disturb communications between parts of the nervous system and may cause symptoms like blurred vision, confusion and memory loss.
But the effect of anticholinergic drugs on stroke risk has never been confirmed.
In the current study, the team calculated the risk of stroke in 22,000 people, who were prescribed medicines with anticholinergic properties.
The participants were men and women aged between 39 – 79 years. These people took part in the EPIC-Norfolk prospective population-based study.
In that study, 25,639 participants were recruited from general practice age-sex registers to complete a baseline health examination from 1993 to 1997.
The researchers followed the participants until March 2016.
They found that people taking medicines with a high level of anticholinergic suffered from severe side effects.
These people had a 59% increased risk of developing a stroke and an 86% increased risk of dying from stroke.
The finding confirms previous results that these types of medicines are linked to poor health outcomes including death, dementia, falls and cardiovascular diseases.
The researchers suggest that drugs with anticholinergic effects could affect inflammation, which is important in the period immediately after a stroke.
It may produce rapid and irregular heart rhythms and interfere with the body’s ability to regulate heart rate and blood pressure, which has been shown to be protective in stroke.
This means if doctors diminish these harmful effects of anticholinergic drugs, they may make patients more vulnerable to stroke.
The research was led by Prof Myint. Dr. David Gamble, Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Aberdeen is the lead author of the study.
The study is published in The International Journal of Epidemiology.
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