A new study has found an association between dementia and commonly used medicines, such as over-the-counter treatments for conditions like hay-fever and insomnia.
According to the scientists, the drug types in question possess an ‘anticholinergic’ effect.
The study, which was conducted by the researchers at the University of Washington, found that increased dementia risk, including Alzheimer’s disease, is closely linked to the intake of commonly used drugs having ‘anticholinergic’ effects at higher doses as well as for a longer time.
The health experts, however, said the people must not panic or stop taking such medications.
The US-based study showed higher doses of these drugs and their prolonged use were associated with higher dementia risk in elderly people.
The researchers only studied older people and discovered the high Dementia risk appeared when patients took medications every day for three years or more.
Study’s first author Shelly Gray, PharmD, MS, said that the elderly people must be aware about several drugs, including some available without a prescription or over-the-counter sleeping aids, which have hard anticholinergic effects.
Researchers recommend the elderly people must tell about all their over-the-counter use to their health care providers and they should not stop taking any such therapy without proper consultation. The health care providers should also review the drug regimens of their elderly patients on regular basis.
Gray also recommends the medial professionals should advice the lowest effective dose of medication with anticholinergic effects to their patients if they found it is the best therapy for the patient. Besides, they should monitor the therapy on regular basis in order to ensure it is working. In case the therapy is ineffective, the doctors must discontinue their use.
The study was published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.