Despite the Headlines, We Don ’t Yet Know If Anticholinergic Drugs Contribute to Dementia Risk

There are a number of things that can increase the risk of dementia: age, of course, as well as certain genetic profiles and behaviors such as smoking and drinking. Some of the same things that contribute to heart disease, such as high cholesterol levels and the build up of plaques in the blood vessels, can also boost the chances of developing dementia. And in a large study published in JAMA Internal Medicine conducted in the UK, researchers report another possible factor: a group of drugs known as anticholinergics. These include prescription medications for treating depression, pulmonary disease, and Parkinson’s, as well as over-the-counter remedies for allergies. British researchers analyzed data from nearly 59,000 people with dementia as well as people without the condition and found that those who took the most anticholinergic drugs were 49% more likely to have developed dementia compared to those not taking the medications. Anticholinergic drugs work by blocking a brain chemical called acetylcholine, which is critical for regulating muscles and for controlling messages sent to the nervous system. Previous studies have found side effects including memory loss and confusion linked to the drugs, so the British team wanted to investigate how these medicines might connect to dementia risk. While the results are intriguing, they do not suggest that the medications are a definite risk factor for dementia. For one, the study was designed to detect only an association, and...
Source: TIME: Health - Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Tags: Uncategorized Brain Dementia Drugs Source Type: news

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