Washington : A recent study has linked a group of over-the-counter drugs to the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s in older adults.
Scientists found that the prolonged use of certain drugs, including certain hayfever, incontinence treatments, some sleeping tablets and anti-depressants, can reduce brain size.
Drugs known as anticholinergenics, which block the chemical which transfers electrical impulses between nerves, were also found to lower metabolism.
The Indiana University School of Medicine research used brain-imaging techniques and cognitive tests to assess the 451 elderly participants, of which 60 were taking at least one medication with an anticholinergenic agent.
Those taking the drug had notably reduced brain volume, and larger ventricles and cavities inside the brain.
First author Dr Shannon Risacher said that these findings might give us clues to the biological basis for the cognitive problems associated with anticholinergic drugs, but additional studies are needed if we are to truly understand the mechanisms involved.
The research concluded anticholinergic medicines were “associated with increased brain atrophy and dysfunction and clinical decline” and therefore, “use of [anticholinergic] medication among older adults should likely be discouraged if alternative therapies are available”.
The study is published in the journal JAMA Neurology. (ANI)