According to a recent study, millions of people are at risk of dementia from drugs used to treat conditions like depression, incontinence and Parkinson’s disease.
The study findings indicate that the risk of developing dementia could be increased by a third later on in life when patients are taking certain types of medications.
Millions may be affected by prescriptions of anticholinergic medications that are used to control muscle contractions or help with mental health condition that are thought to potentially increase the risk of impaired memory functions later on in life.
It’s understood that healthcare professionals have actually known about the risks these drugs can have on patients for a while, with the risks in elderly users thought to be potentially worse. According to the study’s results, people diagnosed with dementia were as much as 30pc more likely to have been prescribed the classes of medications in question.
Lead author of the study, Dr George Savva, said: “the association with dementia increases with greater exposure to these types of medication.”
They also said that, as an example, a person with a ten per cent risk of dementia developing in the next 15 years could see the risk increased to 13pc if they had been taking anticholinergics for at least a year. This also translated as a one-in-33 chance of being diagnosed with dementia that the person would otherwise not have had.
Some of the medications named in the study include amitriptyline and paroxetine for mental health conditions; oxybutynin and tolterodine for bladder conditions; and benzatropine and procyclidine used for Parkinson’s.
If healthcare professionals are already aware of the risks, we assume that patients are being warned of the potential risks of dementia increasing. However, if this is new information, it’s clear that people need to be aware of the risks before they start taking such medications; especially given that dementia is a horrendous condition to have to endure.