“Anticholinergic Drug Exposure and the Risk of Dementia”

Anticholinergic Drug Exposure and the Risk of Dementia,” by Carol A. C. Coupland, PhD1; Trevor Hill, MSc; Tom Dening, MD; et al., Journal of the American Medical Association



“The present study adds further evidence of potential risks associated with strong anticholinergic drugs, particularly those that are antidepressants, bladder antimuscarinic drugs, antiparkinson drugs, and epilepsy drugs. Adverse effects should be considered alongside benefits when these drugs are prescribed, and alternative treatments should be considered where possible, such as other types of antidepressant or nonpharmacological treatments for depression, alternative antiparkinsonian drugs, and bladder training or mirabegron for overactive bladders. We found greater increases in risk associated with people diagnosed with dementia before the age of 80, which indicates that anticholinergic drugs should be prescribed with caution in middle-aged and older people.”

LTC Comment (from Stephen A. Moses, President, Center for Long-Term Care Reform):

Notably absent from this study was any mention of anticholinergic drugs taken as sleep aids, such as Ambien or antihistamines. Other articles have warned such sleep aids could increase the risk of dementia.