Certain Anticholinergic Drugs can Increase the Risk of Dementia in Old Adults by 50%

Old adults face a 50% increased chance of dementia due to some anticholinergic drugs, says a new study. The new study was published on Monday, in the peer-reviewed medical journal, JAMA Internal Medicine. The study was done by a group of researchers from the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom.

The lead author of the study and a professor of medical statistics in primary care at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, Carol Coupland said that “The study is important because it strengthens a growing body of evidence showing that strong anticholinergic drugs have long term associations with dementia risk.” Doctors can now be aware of the drugs that posses increased chances of causing dementia.

The anticholinergic drug works by blocking the action of acetylcholine. Antidepressants, bladder antimuscarinics, antipsychotics and antiepileptic drugs are a few of the drugs that are commonly prescribed by doctors and found with risk of causing dementia. These drugs are used in cases of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bladder conditions, certain allergies, stomach disorders and in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

The research was based on data collected from 284,343 adults aged 55 or more in the UK between the years 2004 and 2016. A total of 58,769 old adults were diagnosed with dementia. Not all anticholinergic drugs were linked with an increased risk of dementia. Antihistamines, skeletal muscle relaxants, gastrointestinal antispasmodics, antiarrhythmics, etc., were among the types of anticholinergic drugs that didn’t show significant effects.

The research is still at a preliminary level and the findings mentioned still need to go through various tests to be proven for sure. The researchers urged patients not to discontinue their prescribed drugs without referring to their doctors. The drug has been for long considered a possible risk of dementia among old adults. In the United States alone, 5.7 million people have Alzheimer dementia, says the study. More than 47 million people were diagnosed with cases of dementia all over the world.