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

Kelowna woman runs to beat hunger

Teri Kanner is collecting donations for the Central Okanagan Community Food Bank

Battle of the concert bands in Lake Country

The annual Concert Band competition is held at Creekside Theatre April 24 to 26

Snoozed through the news? We’ve got you covered

Every Saturday, the Capital News will feature popular stories from the week

Immigrant finds Kelowna job market challenging

Pearl has a Master’s Degree in Finance and was able to find work through KCR

Okanagan Eats back for another year

Okanagan Eats features vendors, chef demos, and so much more. This isn’t your average food show.

Lt.-Gov. Guichon believes she made the right decision in last B.C. election

Outgoing Lt.-Gov Judith Guichon said her most memorable moments weren’t surrounding the election

VIDEO: 33 Oliver-area homes evacuated due to flooding

Flooding in the Sportsman Bowl area has swelled drastically over course of one week

16 of 20 fastest improving B.C. schools are public: Fraser Institute

Independent elementary schools remain at top of the chart in think tank’s annual report card

NAFTA: Talks continue through weekend in scramble to get a deal

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland called negotiations ‘perpetual’

Pulp mill fined $900,000 for leaking effluent into B.C. lake

Mackenzie Pulp Mill pleaded guilty to depositing deleterious substance into water frequented by fish

B.C.’s 2-year lobbying ban starts May 1

Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists can grant exemptions from the prohibition if public interest

Horgan speaks of government’s successes to ‘friends’ at CUPE BC convention

CUPE BC president Paul Faoro said was first time a B.C. premier addressed convention in some time

Speed Skating Canada fires coach Michael Crowe after investigation

Crowe was a coach on the American team from 1983 to 1991 and again from 1999 to 2006

5 things to know about the ongoing influx of asylum seekers in Canada

Number of illegal border crossings are up this year – as RCMP, military, politicians try to combat

Most Read