Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Medications found to cause long term cognitive impairment of aging brain, study finds

Date:
July 14, 2010
Source:
Indiana University School of Medicine
Summary:
Drugs commonly taken for a variety of common medical conditions including insomnia, allergies, or incontinence negatively affect the brain causing long term cognitive impairment in older African-Americans, according to a new study which reported that taking one anticholinergic significantly increased an individual's risk of developing mild cognitive impairment and taking two of these drugs doubled this risk.

Drugs commonly taken for a variety of common medical conditions including insomnia, allergies, or incontinence negatively affect the brain causing long term cognitive impairment in older African-Americans, according to a study appearing in the July 13, 2010 print issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Related Articles


These drugs, called anticholinergics, block acetylcholine, a nervous system neurotransmitter, and are widely-used medical therapies. They are sold over the counter under various brand names such as Benadryl®, Dramamine®, Excedrin PM®, Nytol®, Sominex®, Tylenol PM®, and Unisom®. Other anticholinergic drugs, such as Paxil®, Detrol®, Demerol® and Elavil® are available only by prescription. Older adults most commonly use drugs with anticholinergic effects as sleep aids and to relieve bladder leakage problems.

Researchers from Indiana University School of Medicine, the Regenstrief Institute and Wishard Health Services conducted a six-year observational study, evaluating 1,652 Indianapolis area African-Americans over the age of 70 who had normal cognitive function when the study began. In addition to monitoring cognition, the investigators tracked all over-the-counter and prescription medications taken by study participants.

"We found that taking one anticholinergic significantly increased an individual's risk of developing mild cognitive impairment and taking two of these drugs doubled this risk. This is very significant in a population -- African-Americans -- already known to be at high risk for developing cognitive impairment," said Noll Campbell, PharmD, first author of the study. Dr. Campbell is a clinical pharmacist with Wishard Health Services.

"Simply put, we have confirmed that anticholinergics, something as seemingly benign as a medication for inability to get a good night's sleep or for motion sickness, can cause or worsen cognitive impairment, specifically long-term mild cognitive impairment which involves gradual memory loss. As a geriatrician I tell my Wishard Healthy Aging Brain Center patients not to take these drugs and I encourage all older adults to talk with their physicians about each and every one of the medications they take," said Malaz Boustani, M.D., IU School of Medicine associate professor of medicine, Regenstrief Institute investigator and IU Center for Aging Research center scientist.

"The fact that we found that taking anticholinergics is linked with mild cognitive impairment, involving memory loss without functional disability, but not with Alzheimer Disease, gives me hope. Our research efforts will now focus on whether anticholinergic-induced cognitive impairment may be reversible," said Dr. Boustani, who added that "this study offers a new window to change the burden of dementia" for the individual, the caregiver and the healthcare system."

"This finding of a link between anticholinergics and long term mild cognitive impairment complements our previous work which confirmed a link between anticholinergics and delirium, which is a sudden onset cognitive impairment," said Dr. Campbell.

Although this study, which was funded by the National Institute on Aging, looked at only African-Americans, both Dr. Campbell and Dr. Boustani believe future studies will find that the results are generalizable to other races.

In addition to Dr. Campbell and Dr. Boustani, co-authors of "Use of Anticholinergics and the Risk of Cognitive Impairment in an African-American Population" are Hugh Hendrie, MB, ChB, DSc, of the IU School of Medicine and the Regenstrief Institute; Valerie Smith-Gamble, M.D. of the IU School of Medicine and the Roudebush VA Medical Center; and Kathleen A. Lane, M.S., Sujuan Gao, Ph.D., Babar A. Khan, M.D., Jill R. Murrell, Ph.D., Frederick W. Unverzagt, Ph.D., Ann Hake, M.D., and Kathleen Hall, PhD. of the IU School of Medicine. Dr. Hall is also a Regenstrief Institute affiliated scientist.

A downloadable list of medications with anticholinergic effects can be found on the website of the Indianapolis Discovery Network for Dementia, of which Dr. Boustani is the founder and scientific director. See: http://www.indydiscoverynetwork.org/AnticholienrgicCognitiveBurdenScale.html


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Indiana University School of Medicine. "Medications found to cause long term cognitive impairment of aging brain, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 July 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100713111724.htm>.
Indiana University School of Medicine. (2010, July 14). Medications found to cause long term cognitive impairment of aging brain, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100713111724.htm
Indiana University School of Medicine. "Medications found to cause long term cognitive impairment of aging brain, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100713111724.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) — A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) — Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) — Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. Video provided by Newsy
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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