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Common medications can increase the risk of dementia




(Newser)

A new study in a reviewed journal suggests that a type of medication that is commonly prescribed to treat depression, epilepsy, Parkinson's and other illnesses increases the risk of dementia. The study found that those who receive strong anticholinergics daily for at least three years have a 50% greater chance of developing dementia, according to the JAMA Internal Medicine study. There is no significant risk for weaker anticholinergics, such as those used as antihistamines (Benadryl) or for gastrointestinal disorders, WebMD reports. The study, based on data from over 284,000 people over the age of 55 between 2004 and 201

6 in the United Kingdom, has been observed, which means that drugs are not said to cause dementia, but only that researchers see a connection between use and cases of dementia.
"Research is important because it strengthens the growing evidence that strong anticholinergic drugs have long-term associations with a risk of dementia," says study author Carroll Coupling of the University of Nottingham on CNN. Researchers already knew that anticholinergics may cause short-term side effects such as confusion, but this study has a longer look. Anticholinergics help relax and contract muscles by blocking chemical acetylcholine, WebMD explains. Those most associated with dementia are antidepressants, antimuscarinic bladder drugs, Parkinson's therapy and epilepsy. There is no significant risk for anticholinergics used as antihistamines, skeletal muscle relaxants, gastrointestinal spasmolytics, antiarrhythmics or antimuscarinic bronchodilators. (A new form of dementia has just been discovered.)

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