New study finds a connection between drugs (both Rx and over-the-counter) and Alzheimer’s.
The study tracked the anticholinergic exposure of nearly 3,500 seniors from 1994 to 2012 with follow-ups every two years. The study estimated that people taking at least 10 milligrams (mg) per day of doxepin, 4 mg per day of chlorpheniramine, or 5 mg per day of oxybutynin for more than three years would be at greater risk for developing dementia.
Not only did the researchers find that these effects are dose-dependent (the more anticholinergic medication you take, the higher your risk for developing dementia), but the findings also suggest that the effects may not be reversible, even after you discontinue use of the drug.
Importantly, drugs with anticholinergic effects can be available without a prescription, points out Shelly Gray, PharmD, MS, author of the report and professor, vice-chair of curriculum and instruction, and director of the geriatric pharmacy program at the University of Washington School of Pharmacy.
“Healthcare providers should regularly review their older patients’ drug regimens—including over-the-counter medications—to look for chances to use fewer anticholinergic medications at lower doses,” she says.