Latimer: Ask your doctor about medications and memory

The new study highlights the importance of continuing to examine medication use.

New research has found a link between long-term use of high dose anticholinergic drugs and a higher risk of dementia in older adults.

The new study, published in the journal Aging, highlights the importance of continuing to examine medication use and effects for all conditions as we age.

Anticholinergic agents work by blocking the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and are integral to many different medications—both prescription and over-the-counter. Some conditions commonly treated with anticholinergics include overactive bladder, seasonal allergies, insomnia and depression. Medications with these properties are used by between eight and 37 per cent of older adults.

Although previous studies have shown these medicines may be associated with increased risk for cognitive impairment, this study went further.

Researchers at the University of Washington conducted a large-scale study of older adults to determine whether cumulative anticholinergic use affected the onset of dementia in this population.

In this study, researchers analyzed 10 years of pharmacy dispensing data for 3,400 people aged 65 and older with no history of dementia. Individuals taking daily anticholinergics for more than three years were at greater risk of developing dementia than those who didn’t use these medications long term.

Tricyclic antidepressants, first-generation antihistamines and antimuscarinics for bladder control were the medications examined in this study.

These results are a good reminder of the need to assess medication use on a regular basis. Health care professionals should be asking why a certain medication is being used over the long term and evaluating its likely effects. When patients are taking a medication on a long-term basis, it is wise to periodically test for effects on cognitive function or other potential side effects.

With these medications in particular, health care professionals should educate patients of potential risks and make an effort to minimize their use when possible. In many cases such as with antidepressants and sleep medications, there may be alternative medicines available that do not use anticholinergic agents and may be a better treatment option.

Ongoing research and the development of newer medications for many common disorders will also help to reduce negative effects going forward.

Just Posted

Open burning permitted again in Kamloops Fire Centre

Low fire rating prompts decision throughout Kamloops Fire Centre

B.C. Rural Party co-founder rebukes pro-NDP accusation

Telkwa Mayor Darcy Repen disputes being NDP campaign supporter

Incumbent trustee candidate reassesses SOGI 123 impact

Lee-Ann Tiede says mandated student inclusiveness program has some issues

Lake Country Chamber of Commerce to host All Candidates Forum

Residents are being asked to submit questions to be asked

Kelowna-Lake Country Liberal MP acclaimed for his party’s nomination

Stephen Fuhr runs unopposed as the party’s standard-bearer for the next federal election

VIDEO: Messages of hope, encouragement line bars of B.C. bridge

WARNING: This story contains references to suicide and may not be appropriate for all audiences.

Fresh-faced Flames fend off Canucks 4-1

Vancouver drops second straight NHL exhibition contest

VIDEO: B.C. deer struggles with life-preserver caught in antlers

Campbell River resident captures entangled deer on camera

Scheer pushes Trudeau to re-start Energy East pipeline talks

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer questioned the Prime Minister over Trans Mountain project

Mistaken identity: Missing dog claimed in Moose Jaw belongs to another family

Brennen Duncan was reunited with a white Kuvasz that was found in Saskatchewan

Abandoned kitten safe and sound thanks to B.C. homeless man

‘Jay’ found little black-and-white kitten in a carrier next to a dumpster by a Chilliwack pet store

Police chief defends controversial marijuana seizure

Advocates said cannabis was part of an opioid-substitution program in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside

Trans Mountain completes Burrard Inlet spill exercise

Training required, some work continues on pipeline expansion

Supporters of B.C. man accused of murdering Belgian tourist pack courtoom

Family and friends of Sean McKenzie, 27, filled the gallery for brief court appearance in Chilliwack

Most Read