Common used drugs linked to memory problems, dementia risk

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A study from the University of California, San Diego, has uncovered a potential side effect of a group of commonly used drugs.

These medications, known as anticholinergic drugs, are linked to memory problems.

Anticholinergic drugs are widely used for various health issues.

They’re prescribed for high blood pressure, allergies, colds, Parkinson’s disease, and bladder problems, among others. There are about 100 types of these drugs, ranging from prescription medications to over-the-counter options.

The study tracked 688 people, with an average age of 74. Initially, none had memory or thinking problems. The participants reported if they were regularly using any anticholinergic drugs – defined as at least once a week for more than six months.

Over up to 10 years, these individuals had their memory and thinking skills tested annually. Around one-third of the participants were taking these drugs, with an average of five different types. The most common ones included Metoprolol, Atenolol, Loratadine, and Bupropion.

The findings raised concerns. Those taking at least one of these drugs had a 47% higher chance of developing memory problems compared to those who weren’t. Memory issues are often early signs of more severe memory diseases like Alzheimer’s.

The study also found that people with biological signs of Alzheimer’s or those genetically predisposed to it faced higher risks. If they used these drugs, they were four times (for those with Alzheimer’s markers) and 2.5 times (for those with Alzheimer’s genes) more likely to develop memory problems.

This discovery is significant. Reducing the use of these drugs, particularly before memory issues arise, could help prevent future problems. This is especially crucial for those at a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

The study suggests being vigilant about other health aspects too. For instance, changes in blood pressure might indicate emerging heart issues. Natural remedies, like beetroot, could be beneficial in managing high blood pressure.

Other research indicates that some medications for high blood pressure could paradoxically worsen the condition. In some cases, adopting a ‘wait and see’ approach might be more beneficial than immediate medication.

This research was conducted by Lisa Delano-Wood and her team and published in the journal Neurology. It serves as a reminder to be mindful of the medications we use and their potential long-term effects on our health.

If you care about dementia, please read studies about low choline intake linked to higher dementia risk, and how eating nuts can affect your cognitive ability.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies that blueberry supplements may prevent cognitive decline, and results showing higher magnesium intake could help benefit brain health.

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