Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Using anticholinergics for as few as 60 days causes memory problems in older adults

Date:
May 7, 2013
Source:
Indiana University
Summary:
Research on medications commonly taken by older adults has found that drugs with strong anticholinergic effects cause cognitive impairment when taken continuously for as few as 60 days. A similar impact can be seen with 90 days of continuous use when taking multiple drugs with weak anticholinergic effect.

Research from the Regenstrief Institute, the Indiana University Center for Aging Research and Wishard-Eskenazi Health on medications commonly taken by older adults has found that drugs with strong anticholinergic effects cause cognitive impairment when taken continuously for as few as 60 days. A similar impact can be seen with 90 days of continuous use when taking multiple drugs with weak anticholinergic effect.

The study of 3,690 older adults is among the first to explore how length of use of this group of drugs affects the brain. The study is available online in advance of publication in a print issue of Alzheimer's & Dementia, the journal of the Alzheimer's Association. The research was funded by a grant (R24MH080827) from the National Institute on Aging.

Anticholinergic drugs block acetylcholine, a nervous system neurotransmitter. Drugs with anticholinergic effects are sold over the counter and by prescription. Older adults commonly use over-the-counter drugs with anticholinergic effects as sleep aids and to relieve bladder leakage. Drugs with anticholinergic effects are frequently prescribed for many chronic diseases including hypertension, cardiovascular disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

A list of drugs noting their anticholinergic burden can be found on the Aging Brain Care website.

The Regenstrief Institute, IU Center for Aging Research and Wishard-Eskenazi Health researchers reported that continuously taking strong anticholinergics, like many sleeping pills or antihistamines, for only 60 days caused memory problems and other indicators of mild cognitive impairment. Taking multiple drugs with weaker anticholinergic effects, such as many common over-the-counter digestive aids, had a negative impact on cognition in 90 days.

"We found that a high anticholinergic burden -- either from one or multiple drugs -- plus two to three months of continuous exposure to that high burden approximately doubled the risk of developing cognitive impairment," said Noll Campbell, Pharm.D., study co-author and Regenstrief Institute investigator. "Millions of older adults are taking sleeping pills or prescription drugs year after year that may be impacting their organizational abilities and memory."

Dr. Campbell is also an IU Center for Aging Research scientist, a research assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice, Purdue University College of Pharmacy, and a clinical pharmacy specialist in geriatrics with Wishard-Eskenazi Health Services.

"While the link between anticholinergics and cognitive impairment has been reported by our group and others, the cumulative burden of anticholinergics was rather unexpected, as was the lack of a clear association between anticholinergic burden and dementia," said Regenstrief Institute investigator Malaz Boustani, M.D., MPH. Dr. Boustani, the senior author of the study, who is also associate director of the IU Center for Aging Research and an associate professor of medicine at IU School of Medicine. He sees patients at the Healthy Aging Brain Center at Wishard-Eskenazi Health.

"The fact that taking anticholinergics is linked with mild cognitive impairment, involving memory loss without functional disability, but not with Alzheimer's disease and other dementing disorders, gives hope. Our research efforts will now focus on whether anticholinergic-induced cognitive impairment may be reversible," Dr. Boustani said.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Xueya Cai, Noll Campbell, Babar Khan, Christopher Callahan, Malaz Boustani. Long-term anticholinergic use and the aging brain. Alzheimer's & Dementia, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.jalz.2012.02.005

Cite This Page:

Indiana University. "Using anticholinergics for as few as 60 days causes memory problems in older adults." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 May 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130507124809.htm>.
Indiana University. (2013, May 7). Using anticholinergics for as few as 60 days causes memory problems in older adults. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130507124809.htm
Indiana University. "Using anticholinergics for as few as 60 days causes memory problems in older adults." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130507124809.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Feast your eyes on this gorgeous family-friendly resort. Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Your Favorite Color Says About You

What Your Favorite Color Says About You

Buzz60 (Oct. 22, 2014) We all have one color we love to wear, and believe it or not, your color preference may reveal some of your character traits. In celebration of National Color Day, Krystin Goodwin (@kyrstingoodwin) highlights what your favorite colors may say about you. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) Breeze, a portable breathalyzer, gets you home safely by instantly showing your blood alcohol content, and with one tap, lets you call an Uber, a cab or a friend from your contact list to pick you up. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
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