Is one of the most popular classes of drug actually contributing to higher rates of dementia in older adults? A recent study has some sobering clues that the answer might be yes.

Many older adults are prescribed so-called anticholinergic drugs—for conditions such as depression, vertigo, motion sickness and overactive bladder. Some of the most popular drugs in this category include the antidepressants paroxetine or amitriptyline; bladder antimuscarinics such as oxybutynin and tolterodine; the antipsychotics chlorpromazine and olanzapine; and antiepileptic drugs such as oxcarbazepine or carbamazepine.

While these drugs may be beneficial, evidence has emerged to link these anticholinergic drugs with an increased risk of dementia in older adults, according to a recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine. The researchers calculated that there was nearly a 50 percent increase in the odds of developing dementia when an older adult took the dose equivalent of a strong anticholinergic drug daily for at least three years, compared to no exposure.

As reported by CNN, the study involved analyzing data on nearly 285,000 adults in the United Kingdom, aged 55 and older, between 2004 and 2016. The researchers identified each adult’s exposure to anticholinergic drugs based on the details of their descriptions. They also took a close look at dementia diagnoses and found that nearly 59,000 of the patients had one. Further, the researchers found the odds of dementia were lowest in those with the least exposure to the drugs, and highest in those with the greatest exposure.

It has been well known that anticholinergic agents and confusion or memory issues are linked, says CNN, but this recent study investigated this potential association over an impressively long period of time.

Anyone taking anticholinergics who has questions about their medications should discuss them with their healthcare provider.

© 2019 Silver Disobedience Inc.