Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Commonly Used Medications May Produce Cognitive Impairment In Older Adults

Date:
June 3, 2009
Source:
Indiana University
Summary:
Researchers conducted a systematic evidence-based analysis of 27 peer reviewed studies of the relationship of anticholinergic effect and brain function as well as investigating anecdotal information. They found a strong link between anticholinergic effect and cognitive impairment in older adults.

Many drugs commonly prescribed to older adults for a variety of common medical conditions including allergies, hypertension, asthma, and cardiovascular disease appear to negatively affect the aging brain causing immediate but possibly reversible cognitive impairment, including delirium, in older adults according to a clinical review now available online in the Journal of Clinical Interventions in Aging.

Drugs, such as diphenhydramine, which have an anticholinergic effect, are important medical therapies available by prescription and also are sold over the counter under various brand names such as Benadryl®, Dramamine®, Excederin PM®, Nytol®, Sominex®, Tylenol PM®, and Unisom®. Older adults most commonly use drugs with anticholinergic effects as sleep aids.

While it is known that these medications do have an effect on the brain and in the case of sleeping pills, are prescribed to act on the brain, the study authors suggest the amount of cognitive impairment caused by the drugs in older adults is not well recognized.

"The public, physicians, and even the Food and Drug Administration, need to be made aware of the role of these common medications, and others with anticholinergic effects, in causing cognitive impairment. Patients should write down and tell their doctor which over-the-counter drugs they are taking. Doctors, who often think of these medications simply as antihistamines, antidepressants, antihypertensives, sleep aids or even itching remedies, need to recognize their systemic anticholinergic properties and the fact that they appear to impact brain health negatively. Doing so, and prescribing alternative medications, should improve both the health and quality of life of older adults," said senior study author Malaz Boustani, M.D., Indiana University School of Medicine associate professor of medicine, Regenstrief Institute investigator, and research scientist with the IU Center for Aging Research.

Dr. Boustani and colleagues conducted a systematic evidence-based analysis of 27 peer reviewed studies of the relationship of anticholinergic effect and brain function as well as investigating anecdotal information. They found a strong link between anticholinergic effect and cognitive impairment in older adults.

"One of the goals of our work is to encourage the Food and Drug Administration to expand its safety evaluation process from looking only at the heart, kidney and liver effects of these drugs to include effects of a drug on the most precious organ in human beings, our brain," Dr. Boustani said.

"Many medications used for several common disease states have anticholinergic effects that are often unrecognized by prescribers" said Wishard Health Services pharmacist, Noll Campbell, Pharm.D., first author of the study, noting that these drugs are among the most frequently purchased over the counter products. "In fact, 50 percent of the older adult population use a medication with some degree of anticholinergic effect each day."

"Our main message is that older adults and their physicians should have conversations about the benefits and harms of these drugs in relation to brain health. As the number of older adults suffering from both cognitive impairment and multiple chronic conditions increases, it is very important to recognize the negative impact of certain medications on the aging brain," said Dr. Boustani.

The brain pharmacoepidemiology group of the IU Center for Aging Research currently is conducting a study of 4,000 older adults to determine if the long term use of medications with anticholinergic effects is linked to the irreversible development of cognitive impairment such as Alzheimer disease.

Authors of the JCIA study are Noll Campbell, Pharm.D., Wishard Health Services; Malaz Boustani, M.D., MPH; Tony Limbil, M.D., MPH, of University of Illinois; Carol Ott, Pharm.D. of Wishard and Purdue University; Chris Fox, MRCPsych and Ian Maidment, B.Pharm., of Kent Institute of Medicine and Health Sciences University of Kent and Medway NHS Trust, United Kingdom; Cathy C. Schubert, M.D. of the IU School of Medicine; Stephanie Munger, B.S., of Regenstrief and IUCAR; Donna Fick, R.N., Ph.D., of Pennsylvania State University; David Miller, M.D., of the IU School of Medicine and Rajesh Gulati, M.D., of IU Medical Group – Primary Care.

The study was funded by the John A. Hartford Foundation, the Atlantic Philanthropies, the Starr Foundation, and the National Institute on Aging.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Indiana University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Indiana University. "Commonly Used Medications May Produce Cognitive Impairment In Older Adults." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 June 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090601111934.htm>.
Indiana University. (2009, June 3). Commonly Used Medications May Produce Cognitive Impairment In Older Adults. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090601111934.htm
Indiana University. "Commonly Used Medications May Produce Cognitive Impairment In Older Adults." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090601111934.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) — A new study finds most crimes committed by people with mental illness are not caused by symptoms of their illness or disorder. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) — NBC's "Today" conducted an experiment to see if changing the size of plates and utensils affects the amount individuals eat. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do We Get Nicer With Age?

Do We Get Nicer With Age?

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) — A recent report claims personality can change over time as we age, and usually that means becoming nicer and more emotionally stable. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How to Master Motherhood With the Best Work/Life Balance

How to Master Motherhood With the Best Work/Life Balance

TheStreet (Apr. 22, 2014) — In the U.S., there are more than 11 million couples trying to conceive at any given time. From helping celebrity moms like Bethanny Frankel to ordinary soon-to-be-moms, TV personality and parenting expert, Rosie Pope, gives you the inside scoop on mastering motherhood. London-born entrepreneur Pope is the creative force behind Rosie Pope Maternity and MomPrep. She explains why being an entrepreneur offers the best life balance for her and tips for all types of moms. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins