This site is intended for healthcare professionals only

Common drugs linked to increased risk of dementia

Written by: | Published:

Dementia risk and common drugs could be linked Dementia risk and common drugs could be linked

Medicines, such as treatments for depression and allergies, have been linked to an increased risk of developing dementia, a study published in the JAMA has found.

The study, carried out by researchers from the University of Washington, in the US, evaluated 3434 patients aged 65 or over who had not displayed any symptoms of dementia. The participants were followed for an average of 7.3 years, and were given tests on memory and critical thinking at two-year intervals. The researchers also measured the participants' use of medicines with an anticholinergic effect – drugs that block a chemical called acetylcholine, which boosts nerve cell function.

The study found that 797 of the participants developed dementia over the course of the study. Of these, 79.9 per cent developed Alzheimer's disease. The researchers concluded that regular use of drugs with an anticholinergic were more likely to develop the conditions.

Dr Simon Ridley, head of research at Alzheimer's Research UK, said: 'This large study adds to some existing evidence linking anticholinergic drugs to a small increased risk of dementia, but the results do not tell us that these drugs cause the condition.'

Some of the treatments identified in the study are intended to have an anticholinergic effect, such as those designed to treat muscle spasms. However, others, particularly antihistamines and antidepressants, are anticholinergic as a side effect.

Dr Ridley added: 'Continued research to shed light on these links will be important for helping understand the benefits and potential risks of these drugs. Investment in research is vital if we are to find more effective ways of treating and preventing dementia.'

The authors of the study, commented that 'efforts to increase awareness among health care professionals and older adults about this potential medication-related risk are important to minimise anticholinergic use over time.'

What do you think? Leave a comment below or tweet your views to @IndyNurseMag

This material is protected by MA Healthcare Ltd copyright.
See Terms and Conditions.

Comments

Name
 
Email
 
Comments
 

Please view our Terms and Conditions before leaving a comment.

Change the CAPTCHA codeSpeak the CAPTCHA code
 

Most read articles from Practice Nursing Journal

Practice Nursing Journal latest issue and most read articles.

Click here to read a selection of free to access articles from Practice Nursing Journal

Newsletter

Sign up to the newsletter

About

Independent Nurse is the professional resource for primary care and community nurses, providing clinical articles for practice nurses and prescribers.

Newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter and stay up to date with the latest nursing news.

Stay Connected

Stay social with Independent Nurse by following us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook or connecting on LinkedIn.

Archive

Need access to some of our older articles? You can view our archive, or alternatively contact us.

Contact Us

MA Healthcare Ltd.
St Jude's Church, Dulwich Road
London, SE24 0PB

Tel: +44 (0)20 7738 5454
Registered in England and Wales No. 01878373

Meet the team

Authors

Find out how to contribute to Independent Nurse here.