Some antidepressants and bladder drugs linked to dementia risk in study

Science has linked anticholinergic drugs with cognitive impairment and an increased risk of dementia

Science has linked anticholinergic drugs with cognitive impairment and an increased risk of dementia

And they said it was noticed 15 to 20 years before diagnosis.

Anticholinergic anti-depressants include Amitriptyline, Dosulepin, and Paroxetine, said the researchers who had compared the medical records of 40,770 dementia patients older than 65 to those of 283,933 people without dementia.

Long term use of antidepressants and bladder medicines could increase the risk of dementia.

Global Positioning System should consider the risks in prescribing anticholinergic drugs long-term as they may increase the risk of dementia, a study has suggested.

Anticholinergic drugs are used to treat a variety of conditions and work by blocking a key messenger (neurotransmitter) in the body called acetylcholine.

They found that people who were on the drugs between four and 20 years earlier were more likely to have been diagnosed with dementia.

The association was also seen with antidepressants (adjusted OR 1.11, 95% CI 1.08-1.14, P 0.01), they wrote in The BMJ.

The study is the largest of its kind to date and the findings prompt the researchers to say that clinicians should avoid long term prescribing of some anticholinergics to patients aged 45 and over. Researchers compared how many daily doses of anticholinergic drugs these patients had been prescribed between four and 20 years earlier with a control group of nearly 300,000 matched individuals.

The drugs, used by as many as two million people in England alone, "are known to cause short-term confusion, and after previous studies suggested that they might lead to dementia, researchers set out to find stronger evidence", says The Times.

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The researchers, who report their findings in the British Medical Journal, investigated GP records for more than 40,000 people over the age of 65 with dementia and almost 300,000 without dementia. Developing strategies to prevent dementia is therefore a global priority.

But the researchers warned that patients should not stop taking the drugs without talking to their doctor first.

The results showed a "noticeable association" between increasing total anticholinergic use over the prior 4-20 years, and incident dementia diagnosis.

"What we don't know for sure is whether the medication is the cause".

"This research is really important because there are an estimated 350 million people affected globally by depression", comments lead researcher George Savva, Ph.D., a visiting researcher at the University of East Anglia's School of Health Sciences.

But particularly as treatment options for many conditions increase, the study adds more weight to the notion that physicians should be proactive about identifying alternatives to anticholinergic medications whenever possible, according to Dr. Chris Fox, a clinical senior lecturer at Norwich Medical School and a lead author on the study.

Use of certain anticholinergic drugs - that help to control involuntary muscle movements for conditions such as Parkinson's disease - is associated with an increased risk of dementia, finds a United Kingdom study published by The BMJ today.

"This study is large enough to evaluate the long-term effect and determine that harm may be experienced years before a diagnosis of dementia is made", study co-author Dr. Noll Campbell, a researcher at the Regenstrief Institute in Indianapolis and Indiana University Center for Aging Research, said in a Regenstrief press release. Not taking the medications could have serious consequences, he said.