Some antidepressants may be linked to dementia

Apr 27, 2018, 01:10
Some antidepressants may be linked to dementia

Thus, if someone had a baseline 10% risk of developing dementia in any given year, that risk would increase to 13% with the long-term use of these anticholinergic medications, according to Savva.

The risk was found among patients who take the drugs for a year or more for conditions including depression, Parkinson's disease and urinary incontinence, CNN said.

The team drilled down to see whether there were links between different classes of anticholinergic medication and incidence of dementia diagnosis.

Research director Dr. Carol Routledge with the Alzheimer's Research UK said that researchers that started this study should continue looking more into the connection between "anticholinergics and dementia risk, and researchers will need to build on these findings in future studies".

"There are robust associations between levels of anticholinergic antidepressants, antiparkinsons, and urologicals and the risk of a diagnosis of dementia up to 20 years after exposure", they wrote.

Similar drugs used to treat bladder conditions and Parkinson's disease were also linked to the brain disorder.

The adjusted OR for any anticholinergic drug with an ACB score of 3 being associated with dementia was 1.11 (95% CI 1.08-1.14, P 0.01), but drugs for gastrointestinal and respiratory conditions were not linked with dementia risk.

Hundreds of thousands of people are taking routine medicines that increase their risk of dementia by up to a third, researchers have warned. It could be that these medications are being prescribed for very early symptoms indicating the onset of dementia.

The exact reasons for the increased risk of dementia among those taking certain anticholinergic medications remain unclear.

"What we don't know for sure is whether the medication is the cause" of the dementia, said George Savva from the University of East Anglia's School of Health Science. Stronger anticholinergic drugs can sometimes have powerful side-effects, though, including memory loss and confusion, and in the past, they've been linked to dementia, although not conclusively. However no risk was associated with the use of other anticholinergics, including antihistamines and drugs for stomach cramps, despite previous research suggesting they could lead to long-term cognitive decline. The data was compared to the data of 283,933 people that didn't have dementia.

"We don't know exactly how anticholinergics might cause dementia". However, after a new study written by researchers at the University of East Anglia, we now face a new question: what should we do?

"We studied patients with a new dementia diagnosis and looked at what anticholinergic medication they were prescribed between four and 20 years prior to being diagnosed".

"Many of the treatment options for these conditions involve medication with anticholinergic effects".

"When I see patients on these drugs, I now say, 'let's think about other alternatives, ' " Fox said. The warning to not use anticholinergic drugs in Parkinson's disease is also important. "Carry on as usual, and if you're concerned, talk to your doctor or pharmacist". Nevertheless, the team claims, the findings are signficant enough to warrant reduced prescribing anticholinergics, where possible "With many medicines having some anticholinergic activity, one key focus should be de-prescribing", states study co-researcher Ian Maidment, Ph.D., senior lecturer in clinical pharmacy at Aston University in the United Kingdom.

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