Long-term use of these drugs may increase dementia risk

Credit: Ksenia Yakovleva / Unsplash

In a recent study from the University of East Anglia, researchers found that long-term use of anticholinergic antidepressants is linked to a higher risk of dementia.

This type of drug is linked with dementia, even when taken up to 20 years before a diagnosis.

The researchers also showed a dementia risk linked to medications prescribed for bladder conditions and Parkinson’s.

Other anticholinergic medications, including anti-histamines and those used for abdominal cramps, were not found to be linked to dementia.

Anticholinergic drugs are used to treat a variety of conditions and work by blocking a key messenger (neurotransmitter) in the body called acetylcholine.

In the study, the team checked the medical records of 40,770 patients aged over 65 diagnosed with dementia and compared them to the records of 283,933 people without dementia.

They focused on whether there were links between different classes of anticholinergic medication and the incidence of dementia diagnosis.

They found that there was a greater incidence of dementia in patients prescribed greater quantities of anticholinergic antidepressants, and anticholinergic medication for bladder conditions and Parkinson’s.

The team concludes that clinicians should consider long-term anti-cholinergic effects when prescribing. Patients with concerns should continue taking their medicines until they have consulted their doctor or pharmacist.

More than 50 million people worldwide are affected by dementia and this number is estimated to be 132 million by 2050.

Developing strategies to prevent dementia is, therefore, a global priority.

This is the largest and most detailed study of its kind into the long-term impact of anticholinergic use in relation to dementia.

If you care about dementia, please read studies about how the Mediterranean diet could protect your brain health, and Vitamin B supplements could help reduce dementia risk.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies that high-fiber diet could help lower the dementia risk, and these antioxidants could help reduce dementia risk.

The study was published in the BMJ.

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