Researchers have now discovered that the use of anticholinergics can have a negative impact on our health. The physicians from the Indiana University School of Medicine tried to better understand the connections between the drugs and occurring sequelae. The scientists published their results in the magazine "Journal of the American Medical Association"( JAMA).
Anticholinergic affects our nervous system
There are many medications that are often used in today's society to treat diseases such as colds, allergies, depression, hypertension and heart disease. However, the use of such drugs can lead to cognitive impairment and support dementia, warn experts. The scientists at the Indiana University School of Medicine were looking for evidence to better understand this context.
The list of affected drugs is long. Anticholinergics inhibit a chemical called acetylcholine, which then no longer works properly in our nervous system, scientists say. Normally, this chemical is involved in the control of body functions. Thus, the medicament is able to alleviate, for example, unpleasant gastrointestinal disorders. In addition, it can help with airway problems, explain the doctors.
Anticholinergics reduce our brain volume and affect the memory
There are many other drugs that influence our cognitive performance, such as the allergy drug Benadryl, the antidepressant Paxil and the antipsychotic Zyprexa, the cold drug Dimetapp and the sleeping agent Unisom. In the new study, the researchers investigated the brain scans and cognitive test results of 451 elderly subjects. None of the test persons suffered from cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer's or dementia. However, when the patients used anticholinergic drugs, there was less glucose processing in the brain, an indicator of the activity of our brain, the experts say.
The affected area of the brain is associated with the storage of memories and in addition, it becomes relatively early by an occurring AlzheimerDisease. In addition, patients who used this drug show reduced brain volume in regions associated with cognitive function. Such subjects achieved lower results in tests aimed at memory.
Anticholinergics can lead to cognitive problems in later life
The use of anticholinergics has quite medical advantages that can outweigh cognitive risks, explained Dr. Dr. Shannon Risacher from the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis. If, however, alternative therapies are available that allow effective treatment of these diseases, doctors and patients could avoid the use of anticholinergics, the doctor says. There is a growing number of evidence that anticholinergics can lead to cognitive problems in later life. The results should encourage physicians and patients to discuss these medications. The use of such drugs should be limited if there are alternatives that do not cause cognitive degradation, the author adds.
problem patients should prefer alternative treatments
Since the pathology has determined that a negative effect of anticholinergics on the cognitive function only increases over the years, patients can benefit from a short-term use of the medication, say the medicines. But in the long term, the cognitive damage should not be ignored. The situation is different, of course, if the patient's life depends on a long-term use of the medication, then later cognitive risks would have to be neglected, the experts explain. However, healthier patients who have already had cases of dementia in their family should be particularly careful and prefer alternative treatments, the researchers warn.(as)
Many people take medications, so-called anticholinergics, against all kinds of health problems such as colds, allergies and heart diseases. But these drugs have not only positive effects on our bodies. They can also cause cognitive impairments. In addition, scientists identified a link with dementia.