'Current guidelines for doctors say that anticholinergic drugs should be avoided for frail older people due to their impact on memory and thinking, but doctors should consider these new findings for all middle aged and older people as long-term use could raise the risk of dementia'.
The researchers found that the odds of dementia increased from 1.06 among those with the lowest anticholinergic exposure to 1.49 among those with the highest exposure, compared with having no prescriptions for anticholinergic drugs.
Anticholinergic drugs, prescribed for various mental conditions and even bladder cancer, may increase the risk of dementia by up to 50%.
The drugs, particularly antidepressants, antiparkinson drugs, antipsychotic drugs, bladder antimuscarinics and antiepileptic medications, were associated with almost "50 percent increased odds of dementia", according to the study published Monday in the peer-reviewed JAMA Internal Medicine journal.
The 58,769 patients with dementia had an average age of 82 and 63% were women.
The glance interesting inspecting info on 284,343 adults in the United Kingdom, ragged 55 and older, between 2004 and 2016.
Professor Coupland said: "Our study adds further evidence of the potential risks associated with strong anticholinergic drugs, particularly antidepressants, bladder antimuscarinic drugs, anti-Parkinson drugs and epilepsy drugs". For physicians, this is a significant information to have when considering whether or not to prescribe these drugs.
Their findings showed an nearly 50 per cent increased risk of dementia among patients aged 55 and over who had used strong anticholinergic medication daily for three years or more. The researchers chanced on fully an association between anticholinergic medicines and dementia probability, now not a causal relationship.
Experts said that numerous conditions the drugs are prescribed for - such as depression and Parkinson's disease - are risk factors for dementia, which could also explain the link. Among the most regularly prescribed anticholinergic drugs were bladder antimuscarinics, motion sickness or vomiting, vertigo, and antidepressant drugs.
"Adverse effects should be considered alongside benefits when these drugs are prescribed, and alternative treatments should be considered where possible, such as other types of antidepressant or nonpharmacological treatments for depression, alternative antiparkinsonian drugs, and bladder training or mirabegron for overactive bladders", the report suggested.
The study was funded by the National Institute for Health Research.
"However, if this association is causal, the population-attributable fractions indicate that around 10% of dementia diagnoses are attributable to anticholinergic drug exposure, which would equate, for example, to around 20,000 of the 209,600 new cases of dementia per year in the United Kingdom", the researchers wrote in the study. If [people] have concerns, then they should discuss them with their doctor to consider the pros and cons of the treatment they are receiving. These findings also highlight the importance of carrying out regular medication reviews.
Although they said anticholinergic meds should be prescribed "with caution" to middle-aged and older people, they also warned patients not to stop taking their medication.
This is not the first analysis to show a link between anticholinergics and dementia: an observational study previous year showed that associations between anticholinergic medications and dementia persisted up to 2 decades after exposure.