Fresh research appears to confirm the association between the use of anticholinergic drugs (prescribed for the treatment of depression, epilepsy, Parkinson’s Disease and bladder problems) and an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias (ADRD).
Statistical research involving more than 58,000 people with dementia, and 225,000 without the condition, over 20 years, indicates a:
“ …link between strong anticholinergic medications and increased risk of dementia in the people aged 55 and older. Only certain drugs in this class of medicine – antidepressants, anti-Parkinson drugs, antipsychotics, bladder drugs and epilepsy drugs – were implicated. There was no risk with other anticholinergic medicines, including asthma medication, muscle relaxants, heart rhythm drugs and ones given for gastrointestinal problems”.
Dementia: The drugs that may pose a risk. London: BBC Health News, June 24th 2019.
This relates to:
Coupland, CAC. Hill, T. [and] Dening, T. [et al] (2019). Anticholinergic drug exposure and the risk of dementia: a nested case-control study. JAMA Internal Medicine. June 24th 2019. [Epub ahead of print].
A critical appraisal of this research, from NHS Behind the Headlines:
Widely used class of drugs linked to dementia. London: NHS Digital (previously NHS Choices); Behind the Headlines, June 25th 2019.
Further editorial / commentary:
Full Text Link (Note: This article requires a suitable Athens password, a journal subscription or payment for access).
Campbell, NL. Holden, R. [and] Boustani, MA. (2019). Preventing Alzheimer Disease by deprescribing anticholinergic medications. JAMA Internal Medicine. June 24th 2019. [Epub ahead of print].
A Reflection of Current Levels of Potentially Inappropriate Prescribing in Dementia?
An Australian study has shows that roughly a third of patients initiating dementia medicines were prescribed anticholinergic medicines up to 180 days either before or after.
“Use of anticholinergic medicines is common among persons initiating dementia medicines and this occurs against a backdrop of widespread campaigns to reduce irrational medicine combinations in this vulnerable population”.
Narayan, SW. Pearson, SA. [and] Litchfield, M. [et al] (2019). Anticholinergic medicines use among older adults before and after initiating dementia medicines. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. May 2nd 2019. [Epub ahead of print].