A new study shows the detailed research about the long-term impact of anticholinergic drugs. It is a class of drugs which is commonly prescribed in the United States and the United Kingdom as the antidepressants and incontinence medications.

The use of drugs is found to be associated with the increased risk of dementia which is taken 20 years before the diagnosis of the cognitive impairment. According to an international research ream form the US, UK, and Ireland, they have analysed more than 27 million prescriptions which are recorded in the medical records of about 40,770 patients and whose age is over 65 years and are diagnosed with dementia as compared to the records of 283,933 older adults.

The researchers found out that there is an incidence of dementia among the patients who are prescribed anticholinergic antidepressants, anticholinergic bladder medications, and anticholinergic Parkinson’s disease medications. Dementia is said to be increased with the more significant exposure to the anticholinergic medications.

“Anticholinergic Medication and Risk of Dementia: Case-control Study” which was published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ). The co-author of the new BMJ study, Noll Campbell, PharmD, MS, and Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University Center for Aging Research said “Anticholinergics, medications that block acetylcholine, a nervous system neurotransmitter, have previously been implicated as a potential cause of cognitive impairment. This study is large enough to evaluate the long-term efficacy and determine that harm may be experienced years before a diagnosis of dementia is made.”

Dr Boustanisaid, “Physicians should review all the anticholinergic medications – including over-the-counter drugs – that patients of all ages are taking and determine safe ways to take individuals off anticholinergic medications in the interest of preserving brain health.”

The study was led by the University of East Anglia and was funded by the Alzheimer’s Society, and it utilised data from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink which anonymised diagnosis, referral and prescription records for the 11 million patients from 674 primary care practices. George Savva who is the study lead researcher said “This research is significant because there are an estimated 350 million people affected globally by depression. Bladder conditions requiring treatment are estimated to affect over 13 percent of men and 30 percent of women in the UK and US.”


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