Medications Implicated In The Worsening Of Dementia Symptoms:
Now that you have a sound understanding of what dementia is, let’s move forward to what medications can cause dementia. Here’s a list of medications that may cause dementia:
1. Anticholinergic Drugs:
The first on our list are anticholinergic drugs, one of many medications that can cause dementia.
Mechanism of Action: This class of drugs is responsible for inhibiting the production/secretion of Acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter playing a significant role in regulating the tasks performed by the parasympathetic nervous system, such as learning, muscle movement, etc. The link between anticholinergic medications and dementia is well-established.
Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are also caused due to the deficiency of Acetylcholine. Administering drugs that further reduce the concentration of the neurotransmitter in the brain can be hazardous and may cause the disease to progress more rapidly. The adverse effects of acetylcholine medications in dementia are well-documented.
Commonly Used Anticholinergic Medications: It is important to know about the drugs classified as anticholinergic so they can be readily recognised if an individual exhibits behaviour that indicates dementia. A list of anticholinergic-medication that causes dementia is:
- Tri-cyclic Anti-depressants
- Over-the-counter drugs
- Parkinsons medication
Can Parkinsons medicine cause dementia? The answer is yes, Levodopa and Carbidopa are medications for Parkinsons causing dementia.
General Information About Side Effects
All medicines can cause side effects. Many people don’t have side effects. And minor side effects sometimes go away after a while.
But sometimes side effects can be a problem or can be serious.
If you’re having problems with side effects, talk to your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change to a different medicine.
Always be sure you get specific information on the medicine you’re taking. For a full list of side effects, check the information that came with the medicine you’re using. If you have questions, talk to your pharmacist or doctor.
What Medications Make Dementia Worse
Many of us are familiar with what dementia is, or at the very least, have heard the term. The medical model of dementia perceives it as a symptom of various brain diseases, characterised by losing the ability to memorise or remember things. In severe cases, there are significant behavioural changes and the patient may be unable to perform the simplest of the tasks.
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However, dementia can be cured with the correct medication, and several medication classes for dementia as well as medical interventions for dementia exist.
While dementia medication in the UK works to treat dementia, and medication aids for dementia and are widely prescribed as medications to treat dementia, some routinely used non-dementia medications can aggravate dementia if not taken carefully. We will here discuss how commonly used medications affect individuals with dementia. Before we move forward, a little introduction to dementia is important.
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Beta Blockers May Lower Dementia Risk
A new study has found that taking beta blockers may reduce a person’s risk of dementia, though experts warn it is currently too early to recommend beta blockers for this purpose.
A new study has found that taking beta blockers may reduce a persons risk of dementia, though experts warn it is currently too early to recommend beta blockers for this purpose.
The study, which will be presented at the American Academy of Neurologys annual meeting in March, found that men taking beta blockers were less likely to have brain changes suggestive of dementia.
Blood carries essential oxygen and nourishment to the brain and without it brain cells can die. Having high blood pressure may damage the small vessels that supply the brain with blood.
Vascular dementia, which is the second most common cause of dementia after Alzheimers disease, can occur if blood flow to the brain is reduced.
Carried out by the University of Hawaii, this recent study on 774 Japanese-American men found that those who had taken beta-blockers as the only form of medication for their blood pressure had fewer abnormalities in the brain than those who had not been treated for hypertension or had received other blood pressure medication.
“These results are exciting, especially since beta-blockers are a common treatment for high blood pressure.”
Treat Blood Pressure Lower Dementia Risk
All of the men took part in the Honolulu-Asia Aging Study. Of the 774 men, 610 had high blood pressure or were being treated for high blood pressure. Among about 350 who had been treated, 15% received a beta-blocker, 18% received a beta-blocker plus one or more other medications, and the rest received other blood pressure drugs.
All types of blood pressure medications seemed to have a positive effect on the risk of dementia, the study shows.
Researchers led by Lon White, MD, of the Pacific Health Research and Education Institute in Honolulu, Hawaii, performed autopsies on the brains of these men. They looked for brain lesions indicating Alzheimerâs disease and microinfarcts, scars left behind most likely from unrecognized mini-strokes.
Men who had received beta-blockers alone showed fewer brain abnormalities than those who had not been treated for high blood pressure or who had received other blood pressure drugs. Study participants who had taken beta-blockers alone or in combination with another blood pressure medication showed less shrinkage in their brains.
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How Does Dementia Progress
Dementia is not a disease itself but rather a symptom of multiple diseases, of which the most common is Alzheimer’s disease.
The brain is a complex structure that is responsible for regulating almost every single function of the body. Physical changes such as the buildup of proteins, low supply of red blood cells or alpha-synuclein clumps in the brain structure can impair cognitive function, leading to the development and progression of dementia. However, you can slow down dementia with medication.
Stages of Dementia:
Dementia is a progressive disease, which means once developed, it never stops advancing and continues to escalate in severity until the patient’s death. Research is currently underway to discover dementia prevention medication.
The symptoms and stages of dementia are:
Can Dementia Be Prevented
Dementia affects approximately 50 million people every year across the globe. The risk of developing dementia increases with age people over 65 years of age are more likely to develop symptoms. While certain lifestyles changes may help reduce the risk, they cannot be eliminated. Apart from age and other factors, genetics play a vital role. If a family has a history of developing dementia at old age, the individual is at a higher risk and must take all necessary precautions. A list of medications linked to dementia have already been discussed and should be avoided in such circumstances. While a cure for dementia is yet to be discovered, certain medications to slow the progression of dementia are available in the market.
1- Physical Activity:
Physical activity can help reduce the chances of dementia to a considerable extent. Not only does it help in the prevention of dementia, but it also helps improve the overall circulation and mental well-being. It is important to find exercises that work for you and incorporate them into daily life. 2530 minutes of physical activity every day is considered helpful.
2- Mental Exercises:
3- Healthy Diet:
- and Vitamins
4- Avoid smoking and alcohol:
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New Research Links Certain Medications To Dementia Risk
A new study raises the possibility that certain medications may contribute to the risk of developing dementia.
The focus of this study was on medications with “anticholinergic” effects. These are drugs that block a chemical messenger called acetylcholine, which affects muscle activity in the digestive and urinary tracts, lungs, and elsewhere in the body. Its also involved in memory and learning.
Many medications have at least some anticholinergic effects, and its estimated that up to half of older adults in the US take one or more of these medications. Common examples include:
- amitriptyline, paroxetine, and bupropion
- oxybutynin and tolterodine
- diphenhydramine .
In this new study, researchers collected detailed information from more than 300,000 adults ages 65 and older, and compared medication use among those diagnosed with dementia with those who were not. Those who had taken any medication with anticholinergic activity were 11% more likely to be eventually diagnosed with dementia for those drugs with the most anticholinergic effects, the risk of dementia was 30% greater. The largest impact was found for drugs commonly taken for depression, bladder problems, and Parkinsons disease for antihistamines, and some other anticholinergic drugs, no increased risk of dementia was observed.
What Are Beta Blockers
Beta blockers are a class of drugs that block beta-adrenergic substances such as adrenaline , a key agent in the “sympathetic” portion of the autonomic nervous system and activation of heart muscle. By blocking the action of the involuntary nervous system on the heart, beta blockers slow the heartbeat and relieve stress on the heart. These drugs are used for the treatment of irregular heart rhythms, chest pain, heart attack, hypertension, migraine headaches, social phobias, tremors, and glaucoma.
Common side effects of beta blockers are nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and weight gain if you are taking medicine for diabetes . There are other important side effects and serious adverse effects of this drug class that include, blurred vision, insomnia, hair loss, disorientation, central nervous system effects, and serious heart problems. Beta blockers interact with several other drugs, for example, chlorpromazine , clonidine , Phenobarbital, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs including aspirin, and diabetes medications, including insulin.
Examples of generic and brand names available for beta blockers in the U.S. include: acebutolol , atenolol , bisoprolol , metoprolol , nadolol , timolol . Talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other medical professional if you have questions about beta blockers.
Read the entire beta blockers consumer monograph > >
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Which Common Medications Are Linked To Dementia
Emily Hong & Meg Seymour, PhD
You may have heard the media coverage that common medications may increase the risk for dementia. These medications include a variety of drugs, including antihistamines , some antidepressants, and drugs that help people with Parkinsons.1 What do these drugs all have in common, what do you need to know about them, and are there really risks to taking them?
The drugs in question are called anticholinergic medications. They block the action of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is important for memory, attention, and learning. Because of this connection to memory and the brain, the side effects of some anticholinergic drugs can include dementia-like symptoms, such as memory loss and confusion.
In most cases, these side effects go away after people stop taking the medications.2 However, people taking some anticholinergic drugs may have an increased risk of developing dementia later.2, 3, 4 It is important to note that there are many types of anticholinergic drugs that treat many conditions. The risk may be specific to some drugs. So, its important to assess each type of anticholinergic drug separately.
A 2019 study conducted in England included 284,343 patients.4 It looked at 56 different anticholinergic drugs to see their effects on risk for dementia. The study found that people had a higher risk for dementia if they took:
If Youre Experiencing Forgetfulness Or Confusion Check Your Medicine Cabinet
For a long time doctors dismissed forgetfulness and mental confusion as a normal part of aging. But scientists now know that memory loss as you get older is by no means inevitable. Indeed, the brain can grow new brain cells and reshape their connections throughout life.Most people are familiar with at least some of the things that can impair memory, including alcohol and drug abuse, heavy cigarette smoking, head injuries, stroke, sleep deprivation, severe stress, vitamin B12 deficiency, and illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease and depression.
But what many people don’t realize is that many commonly prescribed drugs also can interfere with memory. Here are 10 of the top types of offenders.
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What Prescription Drugs Are Linked To Memory Loss
Both over-the-counter and prescription drugs can cause memory problems as side effects. Some medications have been linked to Alzheimers and other dementias. We’ll describe some commonly prescribed medications that can affect memory or cause memory loss in the following paragraphs.
Benzodiazepines are anti-anxiety drugs used to treat anxiety, insomnia, delirium, agitation, and muscle spasms. Examples include diazepam , alprazolam , clonazepam , chlordiazepoxide , lorazepam , and temazepam .
Benzodiazepines slow down activity in the central nervous system, including areas of the brain involved with the transfer of short-term memory to long-term memory. Benzodiazepines are prescribed to older adults with caution because they stay in their systems longer due to their reduced kidney and liver function. A buildup of benzodiazepines can lead to memory loss, delirium, and other cognitive issues.
Although sleeping pills are not the same as benzodiazepines, they affect some of the same brain chemical messengers and nerve pathways in the central nervous system. Sleeping pills can cause amnesia and severe psychiatric side effects such as behavioral change, sleep disturbance, and depression.
Side Effects Of Beta Blockers
Most people taking beta blockers have either no or very mild side effects that become less troublesome with time.
Contact your GP if you’re having symptoms that bother you or last more than a few days.
Side effects commonly reported by people taking beta blockers include:
- feeling tired, dizzy or lightheaded
- cold fingers or toes
- difficulties sleeping or nightmares
It happens rarely, but some people have serious side effects when taking beta blockers.
Tell a doctor straight away if you have:
- shortness of breath with a cough that gets worse when you exercise , swollen ankles or legs, chest pain, or an irregular heartbeat these are signs of heart problems
- shortness of breath, wheezing and tightening of your chest these can be signs of lung problems
- yellow skin or the whites of your eyes turn yellow these can be signs of liver problems
These are not all the side effects of beta blockers. For a full list, see the leaflet inside your medicine packet.
You can report suspected side effects using the Yellow Card Scheme.
For more information on the side effects of beta blockers, read about the specific medicine you take in our Medicines A to Z.
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Can You Drink Alcohol While Taking Beta
Its best to avoid drinking alcohol if you take beta-blockers.
Both beta-blockers and alcohol can lower your blood pressure. Combining the two could cause your blood pressure to drop too quickly. This could leave you feeling weak, dizzy, or lightheaded. You might even faint if you stand up too fast.
Of course, these side effects depend on both your prescribed dose of beta-blockers and how much you drink. While theres no completely safe combination, having an occasional alcoholic drink may be less risky. But its best to check with your doctor first.
You should also talk with your doctor if avoiding alcohol is difficult for you. Other medications may be available.
Beta-blockers arent for everyone. They may pose a greater risk to people with the following conditions:
- asthma, COPD, and other lung diseases
Talking to your doctor about your health and any medical conditions may help you avoid negative side effects.
- Let your doctor know if youre pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or breastfeeding.
- To prevent drug interactions, provide your doctor with a list of all the medications and supplements you take.
- Be honest about your alcohol, tobacco, and drug use. These substances can interact with beta-blockers.
So Should You Be Worried About Your Medications And Dementia
These findings are intriguing but they arent definitive, and they dont mean you should stop taking a medication because youre concerned about developing dementia.
First, this study found that use of certain medications was more common in people later diagnosed with dementia. That doesnt mean these drugs caused dementia. There are other potential explanations for the findings. For example, some people develop depression during the early phases of dementia. Rather than antidepressants causing dementia, the medication might be prescribed for early symptoms of dementia that has already developed. This is called “confounding by indication” and its a potential flaw of studies like this one that attempt to link past medication use with future disease.
Another reason to be cautious about these results is that they cannot be used to estimate the impact of medication use on an individual persons risk of dementia. This type of study looks at the risk in a large group, but individual factors may have a much bigger impact on dementia risk.
Still, there is reason to be concerned about the possibility that anticholinergic drugs contribute to the risk of dementia. Acetylcholine is involved in memory and learning, and past research has demonstrated lower levels of acetylcholine in the brains of people with Alzheimers disease . In addition, animal studies suggest that anticholinergic drugs may contribute to brain inflammation, a potential contributor to dementia.
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How To Take Care Of Dementia Patients
Taking care of individuals who have dementia is not an easy task and may require assistance. The following options are available:
Assisted living facility: Some people may be unable to take care of their family members with dementia due to their busy schedules or inability to understand and cater to their needs. Many assisted living facilities and care homes are operational all across the UK where the patients are taken well care of, and all their needs are fulfilled accordingly.
At-home carer: Some people wish to take care of their elderly parents by themselves. In such cases, it is important to have vast knowledge about dementia and how it progresses, the behavioural changes that may occur over time, the medications and the dos and don’ts. . In the last stages of the disease, the patient may require 24/7 care which may be hard to manage along with work. In such cases, an at-home carer may be required. Understanding the medical model of care for dementia is essential. In these testing times of COVID-19 pandemic, live-in care may be preferred.