Do you know that certain drugs you maybe taking may put you at increased risk for dementia? A new study gives you a good reason to rethink what you should store in your medicine cabinet.
This is nothing new as scientists have known about the connection between anticholinergic drugs and an increased risk of dementia. This new research suggests that they could be increasing the risk of dementia by as much as 50 percent!
What are anticholinergic drugs?
Anticholinergic drugs are a class of drugs that treat a wide group of conditions, including allergies, colds, high blood pressure, depression, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), urinary incontinence and overactive bladders.
Few of the strongest anticholinergic medicines include antihistamines, sleeping pills, tricyclic antidepressants, and drugs to treat an overactive bladder. Common anticholinergic drugs include Benadryl, Dimetapp, Sinequan (Doxepin), Paxil (Paroxetine), Desyrel (Trazodone), Remeron (Mirtazapine), Enablex (Darifenacin), Toviaz (Fesoterodine), Urispas (Flavoxate), Ditropan (Oxybutynin).
This study on dementia and anticholinergics established that there was a 50% increase in dementia risk in people who’d taken just over 1,000 daily doses of an anticholinergic drug within a 10-year period, compared to those who’d never taken the drugs.
That’s the equivalent of being on a strong anticholinergic prescription for three or more years.
“The study is important because it strengthens a growing body of evidence showing that strong anticholinergic drugs have long-term associations with dementia risk.”
– Carol Coupland, Lead Author of the Study & Professor of Medical Statistics – University of Nottingham
So, is there a reason to panic?
The study’s conclusion doesn’t mean you have a 50 percent risk of getting dementia if you take anticholinergics. If you have a 20 percent chance of dementia, it would increase your risk to 30 percent.
By comparison, smoking and inactivity increase your risk for dementia by 40 to 60 percent.
So, before you stop taking your anticholinergic medication, please talk to your doctor. There may be other suitable non-anticholinergic medications to treat your condition.