Commonplace Prescription Medications May Be Increasing Risk of Dementia

Prescription MedsA disturbing new scientific study recently revealed results which could have a major impact on anyone middle-aged or older, as well as anyone who is currently caring for an elderly loved one. The study, published in the well-respected journal JAMA Internal Medicine, showed a strong link between many commonplace prescription medications and increased dementia risk.
Here is what you should know.

Understanding the Recent JAMA Internal Medicine Study

The study looked at 58,769 dementia patients, a very large number for this sort of study, and particularly at the medications which they had been prescribed prior to the dementia diagnosis. Even when controlling for other factors, a strong correlation was found between these dementia patients and a class of drugs called “anticholinergic.”

In other words, taking those anticholinergic drugs appears to have significantly increased their chances of dementia – possibly by as much as 50%.

Anticholinergic drugs target certain neurotransmitters in the brain, ones which are involved in both mental activity as well as regulating involuntary muscle movement. Because of this broad effect, anticholinergic drugs are extremely common and used for a variety of conditions ranging from insomnia to Parkinson’s Disease.

Some of the most common drugs in this class include:

  • Antidepressants like paroxetine or amitriptyline.
  • Anti-psychotic medication like chlorpromazine or olanzapine.
  • Antimuscarinics like oxybutynin or tolterodine.
  • Anti-epileptic medication like oxcarbazepine or carbamazepine.

What Does This Mean for You and Your Senior Loved Ones?

The increased risk of dementia seems to only be applicable to those who are middle-aged and older. The researchers found no evidence that anticholinergic drugs harm younger people.

Also, the medication must have been taken long term, in high doses, or both. At a minimum, three years’ daily usage of a high-dose prescription would be needed for a person to be at risk. So even if an older person recently began taking these medications, they are likely still safe.

Call Neighborly Home For Skilled Compassionate Home Care

Neighborly Home Care is concerned with all elderly care issues, and dementia impacts many seniors.  If you have a loved one with dementia and you need assistance, we are here to help. Contact us to learn more about our elderly care solutions and more in Philadelphia.

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