Parkinson, Depression Meds Tied to Dementia Risk

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After taking account of potentially influential factors, the researchers found that definite anticholinergic antidepressants, antiparkinson drugs, and drugs to treat urinary incontinence (ABC score of 3) were linked to increased dementia risk up to 20 years after exposure.

The research, funded by Alzheimer's Society and published in the British Medical Journal, looked at the medical records of 40,770 patients aged from 65 to 99 with a diagnosis of dementia between April 2006 and July 2015 and compared them with those of 283,933 people without dementia.

The focus now should be on "de-prescribing", he insisted, adding: "Doctors, nurses and pharmacists need to work with older people and their carers to ensure that they take medication only if the benefits clearly outweigh the harms".

Some anticholinergic drugs were connected to a higher incidence of dementia, the analysis showed.

Other scientists said the study was well done but cautioned that it did not prove the drugs were a cause of dementia.

"There are robust associations between levels of anticholinergic antidepressants, antiparkinsons, and urologicals and the risk of a diagnosis of dementia up to 20 years after exposure", they wrote.

Using anticholinergic medications over depression promotes higher dementia risks, confirmed by the researchers from the University of East Anglia after analyzing the patients who had always been suffering through Parkinson's disease, depression or bladder conditions and prescribed with heavy dosage of certain anticholinergics.

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The adjusted OR for any anticholinergic drug with an ACB score of 3 being associated with dementia was 1.11 (95% CI 1.08-1.14, P 0.01), but drugs for gastrointestinal and respiratory conditions were not linked with dementia risk.

But this doesn't mean that these medications are directly causing dementia, and experts say patients should not stop taking any medicine without talking to their doctor.

In the meantime, they agree that anticholinergics in general should be avoided in older adults. "It could be that these medications are being prescribed for very early symptoms indicating the onset of dementia", he said.

"Current guidelines for doctors say that anticholinergic drugs should be avoided for frail older people due to their impact on memory and thinking, but doctors should consider these new findings for all over-65s as long-term use could raise the risk of dementia". However, after a new study written by researchers at the University of East Anglia, we now face a new question: what should we do?

Head research Dr. James Pickett compared the risk of dementia with an unhealthy lifestyle and concluded that the risk of an anticholinergic drug increases the risk of dementia was "quite small". Therefore, some anticholinergic drugs may block the normal activity of acetylcholine in regions of the brain associated with memory and cognition, resulting in Alzheimer's-like symptoms, according to Savva.

"Many medicines have this activity, and I think the key things from our finding is that it probably shifts the balance looking at risks versus benefits", said Ian Maidment, senior lecturer in clinical pharmacy at Aston University and another author on the study. The warning to not use anticholinergic drugs in Parkinson's disease is also important. "It's a long-term effect so don't suddenly stop taking medication".

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