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Published on: January 26, 2015
by Sky News:
Some easily available medication, such as allergy and sleeping pills, can increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study.
Sleeping aid Nytol, antidepressant Doxepin, bladder control treatment Ditropan and hay-fever pills Benadryl and Piriton are among those highlighted in a warning from researchers.
The drugs have “anticholinergic” effects, which block a chemical transmitter in the body called acetylcholine.
This can lead to blurred vision, bad memory and drowsiness and it is already known that people with Alzheimer’s lack acetylcholine.
The research, which is published in the journal Jama Internal Medicine, followed 3,434 men and women aged over 65 for around seven years while recording their use of the anticholinergic drugs.
By the end of the study, 637 had developed Alzheimer’s and 160 other forms of dementia.
But those taking the highest doses of the drugs had a 54% greater risk of developing dementia when compared with those who did not use the drugs at all. The risk of developing Alzheimer’s was 63% greater.
She also called on doctors to regularly review the medication regimes of their patients to make sure they were on the lowest dose possible.
The researchers had found that more than 10 milligrammes (mg) per day of Doxepin, four mg per day of Diphenhydramine (Nytol, Benadryl) or five mg per day of Oxybutynin (Ditropan) for more than three years would result in an increased risk of developing dementia.
But many of these medications have substitutes that do not have the anticholinergic effects.
The research paper said: “Given the devastating consequences of dementia, informing older adults about this potentially modifiable risk would allow them to choose alternative products and collaborate with their health care professionals to minimise overall anticholinergic use.”
US study leader Professor Shelly Gray, director of the geriatric pharmacy programme at the University of Washington School of Pharmacy, said people should tell their pharmacist or doctor about the over-the-counter medication they take.
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