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.
Can Acid Reflux Medications Cause Dementia
An interesting article caught my attention regarding the association between long-term proton pump inhibitor use and rates of dementia. Researchers from the University of Rostock in Germany analyzed over 73,000 medical records from an insurance database from 2004 to 2011. What they found was that patients receiving proton pump inhibitors for acid reflux were found to have significantly higher rates of dementia .
My interest in this study comes from the fact that acid reflux and obstructive sleep apnea tend to go hand in hand. Obstructive episodes can create tremendous vacuum forces in the chest and throat cavities, literally suctioning up normal stomach juices into the esophagus and even the throat. Besides conservative recommendations, acid-reducing medications such as PPIs are usually prescribed. All these medications work by blocking the proton pump in the acid-secreting cells in the stomach. Another class of medications includes the H2 blockers, with two common brand names seen is Tagamet or Zantac. These medications are sold over the counter, as well as by prescription. Its estimated that the market value for acid reflux medications in 2016 was $5.66 billion.
Here are some of my comments and observations about this study:
Why The Drugs Affect Your Mind
Both anticholinergics and benzodiazepines affect the activity of neurotransmitterschemical messengers that work in the central nervous systembut the drugs work in slightly different ways.
Anticholinergic drugs block the action of acetylcholine. In the brain, acetylcholine is involved in learning and memory. In the rest of the body, it stimulates the autonomic nervesthose that regulate contractions of blood vessels, airways, and our cardiovascular and digestive systems. The strongest anticholinergic drugs include some antihistamines, tricyclic antidepressants, medications to control overactive bladder, and sleeping pills.
Benzodiazepines boost another neurotransmitter’s effectiveness. They make gamma-aminobutyric acid which slows the activity of neurons in the brain-more potent. For that reason, they are used to calm anxiety and help people sleep.
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How Cholesterol Impacts Brain Health And Memory
Cholesterol has been demonized as a cause of heart disease, but its less known as an essential component of brain cells.
Cholesterol occurs in particularly high concentrations in the brain.
Your brain is 60% fat with much of that being cholesterol.
Without adequate cholesterol, your brain cells would die.
Cholesterol is needed to make neurotransmitters, chemicals that brain cells use to communicate with each other.
Neurotransmitters regulate your mood and your ability to focus, learn, remember, and handle stress.
Abnormal neurotransmitter activity is responsible for many nervous system diseases and psychiatric disorders.
Even your doctors may not know that high total cholesterol has been found to actually reduce the risk of dementia in the elderly.
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” Nearly half of women who take statins eventually develop diabetes, a disease which greatly increases the risk for dementia.
But they certainly know that cholesterol-lowering drugs can cause memory loss since this well-established side effect is listed on the label of every prescription bottle.
Commonly Prescribed Meds Could Raise Dementia Risk
MONDAY, June 24, 2019 — Doctors often prescribe anticholinergic drugs for a variety of ills. But a new study suggests stronger forms of these drugs may increase the risk of dementia in older patients.
These medicines include everything from milder medicines such as Benadryl to more potent medicines, such as certain antipsychotics and Parkinson’s meds. They’re used to treat a wide range of other conditions, including depression, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, overactive bladder, allergies, and gastrointestinal disorders.
Anticholinergic drugs help contract and relax muscles, and work by blocking acetylcholine, a chemical that transmits messages in the nervous system.
But the new British study found that people aged 55 and older who took strong anticholinergic medications daily for three years or more had a 50% increased risk of dementia.
“Our study adds further evidence of the potential risks associated with strong anticholinergic drugs, particularly antidepressants, bladder antimuscarinic drugs, anti-Parkinson drugs and epilepsy drugs,” said study author Carol Coupland. She works in the division of primary care at the University of Nottingham.
Anticholinergics are known to cause short-term side effects — including confusion and memory loss — but it’s unclear if long-term use increases the risk of dementia.
There was no increased risk of dementia among patients who took other types of anticholinergic drugs such as antihistamines and gastrointestinal drugs.
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How Is Vascular Dementia Diagnosed
In addition to a complete medical history and physical exam, your healthcare provider may order some of the following:
- Computed tomography . This imaging test uses X-rays and a computer to make horizontal, or axial images of the brain. CT scans are more detailed than general X-rays.
- FDG-PET scan. This is a PET scan of the brain that uses a special tracer to light up regions of the brain.
- Electroencephalogram . This test measures electrical activity in the brain
- Magnetic resonance imaging . This test uses large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to make detailed images of the brain.
- Neuropsychological assessments. These tests can help sort out vascular dementia from other types of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
- Neuropsychiatric evaluation. This may be done to rule out a psychiatric condition that may resemble dementia.
How Can Statins Both Increase And Decrease Risk
A group of researchers from Denver have recently tried to explain how statins could be both helpful and harmful.1 They note that statins, like other medications that affect metabolism in complex ways, act through more than one mechanism. Statins decrease cholesterol, and that may be an important reason for their cardiovascular benefits. Statin use reduces stroke risk and their cerebrovascular benefits may be important in reducing dementia. There may be additional effects beyond cholesterol reduction as well. Studies have suggested that atorvastatin, for example, can reduce -amyloid production, reduce vascular inflammation, protect endothelial cell function and reduce brain ischemia.
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The American Heart Associations Diet Is A Killer
The landmark Lyon Diet Heart Study followed approximately 600 participants who were at extreme risk for heart attacks.
They were overweight, sedentary, smoked, and had high cholesterol levels.
Half were put on a Mediterranean diet and half were put on what was called a prudent Western-type diet recommended by the American Heart Association.
The study was halted before it was completed.
People on the Mediterranean diet were 45% less likely to die over the 4-year period than those on the prudent diet even though their cholesterol levels didnt budge.
However, so many people on the American Heart Associations diet were dying that researchers felt it was unethical to continue putting study participants at risk.
A New Role For Statins: Lower Dementia Risk
If youre considering taking a statin drugor you are on one alreadyyou may have questions. These drugs are very good at lowering cholesterol and can reduce the risk of dying from heart disease.
But there have been reports of memory problems with the medications. In 2012, the FDA updated its safety information for statins to include memory loss and confusion as possible side effects. Some people fear that statin drugs can increase the risk for Alzheimers disease and other kinds of dementia.
The latest news should put these fears to rest. It comes from a new study in the journal Neuroepidemiology. It included 30 other large studies and looked at more than 9 million people. The research found that statins did not increase the risk of dementia. In fact these medications it. So taking a statin may help both your heart and your mind.
Previous research showed similar results. In a 2013 study, Johns Hopkins researchers looked at 41 studies that monitored 23,000 people for memory problems for up to 25 years. The result? There was no evidence that statins caused dementia and some evidence that they prevented memory loss.
Doctors arent sure how statins might protect the brain. They may help the same way that they help the blood vessels that feed the heartby reducing inflammation and the buildup of plaque that prevents blood from flowing. Some forms of dementia are caused by similar blockages in the blood vessels of the brain.
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How Could Statins Do Both
Considering the evidence presented above, it is conceivable that statins can contribute to both reversible cognitive impairment as well as preservation of cognition through the prevention of dementia. If statins have both of these effects, there are a variety of possible explanations as to how this is occurring. The various physiological effects statins have on the body can explain how they can cause a myriad of different outcomes.
The Negative Effects Of Statins On The Brain
02/04/2019 / By Tracey Watson
Statin drugs, prescribed by doctors to reduce high cholesterol levels and supposedly prevent heart attacks and strokes, are the second most prescribed drugs in the world, after the painkiller hydrocodone. Since one in five Americans between the ages of 40 and 75 take these drugs regularly, it is likely that you are acquainted with at least one person who is doing so.
Nonetheless, even though doctors hand out statins like candy, several studies have confirmed that they carry serious side effects. And the vast majority of patients are blissfully unaware of just how dangerous and indeed, ineffective they are.
One of the greatest concerns raised by experts is the potential for statins to cause damage to the brain, triggering memory loss and dementia.
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The Link Between Statins Memory Loss & Dementia
Memory loss and dementia are some of many side effects of statins. Learn what to do if you think statins are causing memory loss for you.
If youve been diagnosed with high cholesterol, its very likely that your doctor prescribed a type of cholesterol-lowering drug called a statin.
Statins, also known as HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, are the most commonly prescribed drugs in the world and among the most profitable.
Annual worldwide sales were forecasted to reach one trillion dollars by 2020.
Over one in five Americans between the ages of 40 and 75 takes these drugs ostensibly to prevent a heart attack or stroke.
The US is currently experiencing epidemics of memory loss, dementia, and Alzheimers disease .
This may not be a coincidence.
Is there a connection between taking statins and the rise in memory loss and dementia?
Cholesterol And Cognitive Function
The human brain contains 25% of the total cholesterol of the body. Cholesterol is a major lipid constituent of the myelin sheath and the membrane lipid rafts in neurons and astrocytes, participating in regulation of ion channel permeability, signal transduction, and other cellular functions . Lipoproteins have very limited permeability of the intact blood-brain barrier. Therefore, essentially all brain cholesterol is locally synthesized in astrocytes, which are the main source of cholesterol for neurons.
One of the pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer disease is the development of extracellular senile plaques, composed mainly of a small peptide known as amyloid- , thought to be a major causative agent in the development of AD. Cholesterol is believed to be an important factor in the regulation of A production, with high cholesterol levels being linked to increased A generation and deposition. Lower cholesterol levels shift amyloid precursor protein processing to nonraft regions of the membrane where the benign -secretase cleavage pathway is favored .
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Effects Of Cholesterol On Brain Health And Memory
Although cholesterol is an important component in the brain where it occurs in high concentrations, its also linked with heart disease. In fact, your brain is 60% fat and much of it is cholesterol. Your brain cells would die without cholesterol. So, cholesterol is required for the production chemicals brain cells known as neurotransmitters which are responsible for mood, ability to remember, learn, focus, and cope with stress.
Most psychiatric disorders and nervous system diseases are associated with abnormal neurotransmitter activity in the brain.
High total cholesterol lowers the risk of dementia in the elderly. However, drugs that lower cholesterol can lead to memory loss. Every prescription bottle of statin contains this warning.
Statins And Reversible Cognitive Impairment Proposed Mechanisms
Cholesterol is vital to normal brain functions including learning and memory . It is important in myelin sheath formation, mitochondrial function, neurotransmitter receptor expression, synapse development, production of steroid hormones involved in brain and peripheral signaling, and the transport of antioxidants such as coenzyme Q10 . It is unlikely that decreasing peripheral serum cholesterol levels affect cognition, however, it is more probable that affecting cholesterol levels locally in the CNS is responsible for the cognitive impairing effects . Increased exposure to a medication and increased lipophilicity can result in increased brain exposure to a medication leading to the hypotheses that higher statin potency/doses and lipophilicity may translate to decreased cholesterol levels locally in the brain and subsequently lead to cognitive impairment.
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Statins Use And Incident Vascular Dementia
Across 3 studies,,, no significant difference in the incidence of VaD was observed between participants with statins treatment and those without . There was evidence of publication bias through Eggers regression . We used Duval and Tweedies trim and fill procedure toward left to adjust effect size estimates to publication bias and the results remained non-significant . No significant heterogeneity was found .
It’s Not Dementia It’s Your Heart Medication: Cholesterol Drugs And Memory
Why cholesterol drugs might affect memory
ONE DAY IN 1999, Duane Graveline, then a 68-year-old former NASA astronaut, returned home from his morning walk in Merritt Island, Fla., and could not remember where he was. His wife stepped outside, and he greeted her as a stranger. When Gravelines memory returned some six hours later in the hospital, he racked his brain to figure out what might have caused this terrifying bout of amnesia. Only one thing came to mind: he had recently started taking the statin drug Lipitor.
Cholesterol-lowering statins such as Lipitor, Crestor and Zocor are the most widely prescribed medications in the world, and they are credited with saving the lives of many heart disease patients. But recently a small number of users have voiced concerns that the drugs elicit unexpected cognitive side effects, such as memory loss, fuzzy thinking and learning difficulties. Hundreds of people have registered complaints with MedWatch, the U.S. Food and Drug Administrations adverse drug reaction database, but few studies have been done and the results are inconclusive. Nevertheless, many experts are starting to believe that a small percentage of the population is at risk, and they are calling for increased public awareness of the possible cognitive side effects of statinssymptoms that may be misdiagnosed as dementia in the aging patients who take them.
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Aspree Neurocognition Analysis Largely Neutral For Most People
byNicole Lou, Staff Writer, MedPage Today June 21, 2021
Statin users provided reassuring longer-term data on cognition in ASPREE, but even that large study could not exclude statin-related dementia in some older people.
People who entered the ASPREE trial on baseline statin therapy were not at a significantly elevated risk of incident dementia, mild cognitive impairment, or changes in domain-specific cognition over a median 4.7 years of follow-up, according to Zhen Zhou, PhD, of Menzies Institute for Medical Research, University of Tasmania in Hobart, Australia, and colleagues.
Yet statin users had lower baseline cognition function compared with non-users, and baseline neurocognitive ability turned out to be an effect modifier for the associations between statins and dementia and statins and memory change .
The increased dementia risk with statin use at lower baseline cognition was attributable mainly to the increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease , Zhou and colleagues reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
“It is possible that the increased dementia risk with statin use seen in the lowest cognition quartile reflected reverse causality or an indication bias whereby participants with lower cognition have been prescribed statins in the hope of preventing deterioration in the vascular component of dementia,” the authors suggested.
Statins are an established therapy for primary and secondary cardiovascular prevention.
Cholesterol Particle Size Matters
Unfortunately, most doctors worry more about patients cholesterol numbers than their overall health.
Testing for HDL cholesterol or LDL cholesterol levels is overly simplistic.
One test that does seem to provide good information about your risk for heart disease is to measure LDL particle size.
Large LDL molecules just move through the bloodstream, doing no harm.
But small LDL molecules are caused by oxidation and are dangerous.
Chronic inflammation promotes every known degenerative disease.
It causes microinjuries to your arteries, causing problematic plaque formation.
Free radicals are unattached oxygen molecules that attack your cells in much the same way that oxygen attacks metal, causing it to rust.
They also attack LDL cholesterol transforming it from large to small LDL particles.
The stress hormone cortisol contributes to heart disease by increasing triglycerides and blood pressure, two common risk factors.
Stress also contributes to plaque deposits in the arteries.
A 15-year study found there to be a strong correlation between sugar consumption and death from heart disease.
Sugar promotes inflammation, raises blood pressure, and stimulates the liver to dump harmful fats into the bloodstream.
Trans fats are unhealthy fats found in processed foods.
They increase bad cholesterol, decrease good cholesterol, increase inflammation, and raise triglyceride levels.
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