All the drugs that were linked to dementia have an “anticholinergic” effect, scientists found. However, researchers involved in the new study say people should not be alarmed and should not stop the treatment before talking to their doctor.
The new study, published in the Journal JAMA Internal Medicine, showed that higher doses and prolonged use of certain drugs were linked to a higher risk of dementia in elderly people.
The scientists analyzed only the data from elderly people and found that they have an increased risk of developing dementia if they take certain drugs daily from more than three years.
Researchers say that all drugs are known to have side effects, and the anticholinergic drugs are no exception. The anticholinergic drugs block a compound called acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter.
The scientists advise doctors and pharmacists to look into this problem and be aware of the risks.
Dr. Doug Brown, a specialist at the Alzheimer’s Society in the UK, said that patients should be informed of any side effects these drugs may have, such as reduced attention span, memory problems or a dry mouth.
The experts advise patients to be aware that these drugs are linked to a higher risk of dementia.
Dr. Shelly Gray and her team of researchers from the University of Washington analyzed the data of 3,434 people aged 63 and older. None of the participants showed any signs of dementia at the beginning of the study.
The scientists collected the medical and pharmacy records of the patients to establish how many of them had been using drugs with anticholinergic effects. The researchers analyzed the doses and how often the patients took these drugs. The experts compared all the data with subsequent diagnoses of dementia over the next ten years.
Some of the types of treatments the researchers studied include tricyclic antidepressants used for treating depression; antihistamines used for treating allergies and hay fever, and antimuscarinics, used for patients who suffer from urinary incontinence.
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