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Common drugs increase risk of dementia and Alzheimer's.

Prolonged use of certain medications can increase a person's risk of Alzheimer's disease and dementia, according to a recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine *

In the study, researchers at the University of Seattle in Washington looked at common drugs that have an anticholinergic effect, indicating they block a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, affecting the nervous system and causing side effects such as drowsiness, blurred vision, and poor memory. People with Alzheimer's often lack adequate level of acetylcholine.

Some medications that fall into this class include older tricyclic antidepressants such as doxepin, antihistamines like Benadryl[R] (diphenhydramine), and medications such as Detrol[R] (tolterodine), which treats overactive bladder.

The study analyzed data from 3,434 participants over the age of 64 with no diagnosis of dementia to determine the level of anticholinergic medications they consumed. The data also determines how many participants later developed dementia or Alzheimer's.

After seven years of follow-up, researchers found that 797 participants who had taken the anticholinergic drugs developed dementia. Of those, 637 participants (18.5%) eventually developed Alzheimer's disease.


Editor's Note: Many newer drugs to treat these conditions do not have anticholinergic effects, such as the antidepressant Prozac[R] and antihistamines such as loratadine (Claritin[R]).

* JAMA Intern Med. 2015 Jan 26.

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Title Annotation:IN THE NEWS
Publication:Life Extension
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2015
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