A recent study revealed there’s a connection between the risk of dementia and regular use of common medicines such as antihistamines, sleep remedies, and some anti-depressants.
Dementia is a brain disease which leads to loss of memory, reduced reasoning power and inability to think clearly. The condition will impair the patient’s daily activities markedly.
Dr. Simon Ridely, from Alzheimer’s Research UK, comments, “This large study adds to some existing evidence linking anticholinergic drugs to a small increased risk of dementia, but the results don’t tell us that these drugs cause the condition. Continued research to shed light on these links will be important for helping understand the benefits and potential risks of these drugs. In the meantime, anyone who is worried about the medication they are taking should seek advice from a doctor or pharmacist before stopping a course of treatment.”
Alzheimer’s Society director of research and development Dr. Doug Brown, said, “There have been concerns that regular use by older people of certain medications with anticholinergic effects, such as sleep aids and hay fever treatments, can increase the risk of dementia in certain circumstances, which this study supports.”
“However, it is still unclear whether this is the case and if so, whether the effects seen are a result of long-term use or several episodes of short-term use. We would encourage doctors and pharmacists to be aware of this potential link and would advise anyone concerned about this to speak to their GP before stopping any medication.”
“Our findings suggest that a person taking an anticholinergic, such as oxybutynin chloride, 5 mg/d, ordoxepin hydrochloride, 10 mg/d for more than three years would have a greater risk for dementia,” tell the study authors. “Prescribers should be aware of this potential association when considering anticholinergics for their older patients and should consider alternatives when possible.”
This study has been published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.