Certain Drugs Cause Cognitive Impairment in Elderly in 60 Days

Although we do rely on pharmaceuticals as part of our integrative approach, we always strive to minimize or eliminate drugs whenever prudent. The information in this new study is one example of why many people are better off with with fewer pharmaceuticals as part of their treatment plan.

Scientists have found that daily use, by older adults, of a drug with strong anticholinergic effects, or a combination of drugs with weak anticholinergic effects, causes memory problems in just 60-90 days. This effect is serious enough to be categorized as mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Whether this effect is reversible will be explored in future research. (Anticholinergic drugs work by blocking acetylcholine, a nervous system neurotransmitter. They include some over-the-counter drugs as sleep aids, relief of bladder leakage, or antihistamines, and some prescription drugs for chronic diseases including hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. MCI is a condition considered not to have a major impact on independent functioning; it does not necessarily lead to dementia or Alzheimer’s.) Strongly anticholinergic drugs were associated with a more than doubling of the risk of MCI. There was no increased risk of dementia. Find out whether your drugs have anticholinergic activity, and to what extent, by visiting the Aging Brain Care website at http://tinyurl.com/dxr8ztw. This study was released early and is now being proofed for publication in an upcoming issue of the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia. It can be read in full at http://tinyurl.com/cfmbx8r.

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