Should anticholinergic drugs be avoided? According to the results of the study published in JAMA Internal Medicine on June 24, 2019, it is great that. Researchers have indeed shown the link between taking anticholinergic drugs and potentials risk of dementia for older people.
Anticholinergics, dangerous drugs
Anticholinergics are medicines prescribed against the pre-existing bladder, depression, Parkinson's disease, epilepsy, allergies or incontinence. They inhibit the action of acetylcholine, mediated neurotransmitter in the brain and parasympathetic nervous system.
Although we already know them side effects in a short time, causing a loss of memory and confusion, one may wonder about their long-term consequences.
To find out, researchers from the University of Nottingham analyzed data from more than 58,000 people patients with dementia and 225,000 witnesses. Participants, older than 55, were on average 82 years of age.
In the pre-diagnosis period (about ten years), 57% of patients were taking anticholinergics, against 51% of control groups.
On average, people who had a diagnosis of dementia received six recipes for these medications, compared to four for control. Most prescribed drugs were antidepressants, dizziness drugs, and antimuscarinic for pre-existing urinary bladder problems.
50% dementia risk in persons older than 55 years
After diagnosing all participants, the results show the risk of dementia associated with anticholinergics: for the most consumed, the risk of dementia was increased 49% compared to those who have never taken it.
More specifically, the drugs covered by this risk were antidepressants, antipsychotics, Parkinson's disease drugs, epilepsy or bladder disorders.
The affinity of anticholinergics and dementia is stronger when the disease is diagnosed before 80 years. If there is a causal connection, that would mean that it is approximately the same 10% dementia diagnosed in the UK due to antihistamines.
In addition, the study suggests that these medicines should be prescribed cautiously in middle-aged and elderly people. Tom Dening, who participated in these analyzes, explained that despite the risks it is important that patients who take such drugs do not stop abruptly, as this could be much more harmful.
The right attitude for adoption? Contact your doctor to discuss the benefits and disadvantages of this treatment.