Recently, researchers found that many common drugs prescribed for heart disease, allergies, and Parkinson’s are linked to higher stroke risk.
They found that people who take drugs with anticholinergic feature may suffer from a higher stroke risk by 60%.
The findings suggest that both doctors and patients should pay attention to the drugs in use.
The research was done by a team from the University of Aberdeen.
Drugs having so-called anticholinergic properties can disrupt communication between parts of the nervous system.
These drugs may lead to blurred vision, confusion and memory loss.
Previous studies have found that these types of medicines are linked to higher risks of death, dementia, falls and heart disease.
However, the effect of anticholinergic drugs on stroke has never been identified.
In the study, the team analyzed the risk of stroke in 22,000 people who were prescribed medicines with anticholinergic properties.
The participants aged between 39 – 79 years and they were from the EPIC-Norfolk prospective population-based study.
In that study, participants were invited from general practice age-sex registers to complete a baseline health examination from 1993 to 1997.
Participants were followed up until March 2016. This provides a chance to examine the long-term risks of the medication.
The team found that people who took the drugs with a high level of anticholinergic side effects had a 59% higher risk of stroke and an 86% higher risk of dying from stroke.
The team explains that drugs with anticholinergic effects may increase inflammation.
This is important in the period immediately after a stroke. They can produce rapid and irregular heart rhythms and interfere with the body’s ability to regulate heart rate and blood pressure.
This can make people more vulnerable to stroke.
The researchers suggest the study may help find a new modifiable risk factor for stroke.
The findings are particularly relevant to doctors who prescribe and manage patient’s medications.
Future work needs to confirm the findings and systematically examine the link between these drugs and stroke risk.
The lead author of the study is Dr. David Gamble, Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Aberdeen
The study is published in The International Journal of Epidemiology.
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