Don’t Allow Medical-Induced Dementia

Have you every wondered why all of a sudden you can’t remember where you put something or someone is trying to get you to remember an event you witnessed and you just can’t? Well, sometimes that is normal for most of us. But if it continues and you feel there may be something weird going on or your loved ones are telling you to get medical help, then maybe you need to check out the medications you are taking.

Scientists and researchers are now reporting that older people who take certain medicines that are used to treat conditions such as urinary incontinence, depression, asthma, allergies and sleeping problems, should be warned that their use might bring a higher risk of dementia. A study done by Indiana University found that people using “anticholinergic medications” worsened on thinking­related tests and had acquired smaller brain sizes than those who didn’t take them. This might be the first time their effort at blocking a brain chemical called acetylcholine has been implicated even though researchers say a link has been found before. Many drugs have been listed showing the categorical scoring. However, the possible anticholinergic drugs the researchers have studied can be proven to cause dementia.

Some of the more common drugs with ACB Score of 1 and classed as “possibles” are: Xanax, Abilify, Wellbutrin, Zyrtec, Tagamet, Valium, Lasix, Haldol, Immodium, Claritin, Procardia, Zantac, Risperdal, Effexor and Coumadin. A few drugs with ACB score of 2 and definite anticholinergics are: Demerol, Moban, Summetrel and Loxitane. Some listings of drugs with ACB with a score of 3 and classed as definite are: Dimetapp, Thorazine, Norpram, Bentyl, Dramamine, Benadryl, Unison, Toviaz, Antivert, Norflex, Ditropan, Paxil, Phenergan, Detrol and Artane.
Shannon Risacher, PhD, assistant professor of radiology and imaging scientist, states “ these findings provide use with a better understanding of how this class of drugs may act upon the brain in ways that might raise the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia.”

Research published in JAMA Neurology involved 451 people with an average age of 73 years, 60 of who were taking at least one medication from this class of drugs. Upon these tests their brain function showed that those taking the anticholinergic medications did worse than those not taking them. Results included short­term memory, verbal reasoning, planning, and problem solving. Anticholinergic medications led to users’ brains processing blood sugar (glucose) differently in both the overall brain and in the hippocampus, a region that’s tied to memory and which shows early effects of Alzheimer’s disease. They also discovered that volunteers using anticholinergic drugs had less brain volume and larger ventricles, the cavities inside the brain. There should be reconsideration on the physicians’ part to consider alternatives to anticholinergic medications if available when working with older patients.

Anticholinergics can have many beneficial effects and need to be balanced against potential side effects. If you are concerned about your current medication, speak to a doctor before stopping your course of treatment.

Think about your health and start searching studies. Research how to better understand your own condition and the best treatment options available. If you have a naturopathic physician or an M.D. who also practices natural medicine, it may benefit you greatly to go have a nice chat.

Dr Fredda Branyon