Anticholinergics may increase dementia risk

In the first study to show a dose-response relationship, University of Washington (UW) researchers found a robust association between greater and prolonged use of anticholinergics and dementia in over-65s.
This has sparked calls for doctors to consider alternative medications where possible.

“For conditions with no therapeutic alternatives, prescribers should use the lowest effective dose and discontinue therapy if ineffective,” the authors said.

Compared to non-users, heavy users had a 53% increased risk of developing dementia over the mean 7.3 year follow up.

During that time, 23% of participants developed dementia, with a large portion of those (80%) considered to have possible or probable Alzheimer’s disease.

While cognitive impairment from anticholinergic use is often thought to be reversible, this prospective cohort study showed similar risk profiles for past users and those with greater continuous use or