Popular Drugs Increases Risk of Dementia

Popular Drugs Increases Risk of Dementia

A new study suggests that many popular prescription drugs actually increase the risk of dementia in older adults. 

A new study from the University of Washington provides strong evidence and link between certain popular drugs and the risk of dementia in older adults. The drugs all share common mechanisms within key areas of the brain, but are normally used as ingredients in over-the-counter sleep, cold, cough, and allergy medicines, as well as in the treatment of a restless bladder and depression. What are these drugs and how are they increasing the risk of dementia?

Drugs & Dementia

The drugs that have been linked to dementia are Benadryl, Nytol Sominex, Theraflu, Triaminic Allergy, et cetera. Drugs that contain chlorpheniramine (Aller-Clor), oxybutynin (Ditropan) and tolterodine (Detrol) for an overactive bladder, and tricyclic antidepressants like amitriptyline or doxepin have also been linked to dementia.

The Data

In order to make such a bold claim about whether these drugs are associated with an increased risk of dementia, the researchers examined the medical records from 3,434 participants 65 years or older with no dementia upon their entry. The researchers tracked the patients for ten years. About 20 percent of that population was found to be using anticholinergic drugs. During this evaluation, 797 participants, which equates to about 23.2 percent of the population, developed dementia, with 637 of those developing Alzheimer’s disease.
The authors of the study propose efforts to increase awareness among health care professionals and older adults about the risk of these drugs over time. Whether big pharmaceutical companies actually listen to the science is another matter.
Researchers said, “While discontinuation of the drugs is thought to reverse the mental deficit, there is evidence that anticholinergic drugs may produce permanent changes leading to irreversible dementia.”

Talk to your doctor about your medications, including over-the-counter drugs. For more information about prescription drug coverage and how to enroll, contact SeniorChoices NW to schedule an appointment or attend a local informational meeting.

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