Tuesday, January 27, 2015

OTC, Prescription Meds Linked to Dementia

A large study from yesterday's JAMA Internal Medicine links a significantly increased risk for developing dementia, including Alzheimer's disease, to taking commonly used medications with anticholinergic effects at higher doses or for a longer time. Many older people take these medications, which include nonprescription diphenhydramine (Benadryl).

It is the first study to show a dose response: linking more risk for developing dementia to higher use of anticholinergic medications. And it is also the first to suggest that dementia risk linked to anticholinergic medications may persist -- and may not be reversible even years after people stop taking these drugs.

The most commonly used medications in the study were tricyclic antidepressants like doxepin (Sinequan), first-generation antihistamines like chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton), and antimuscarinics for bladder control like oxybutynin (Ditropan).

Bonnie: This latest study is a prime example of the important implications for people taking medications -- and for those prescribing medications for older patients." 

Anticholinergic-type drugs that block a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. Here's a list of medications with anticholinergic effects.

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