Scientists have long found a possible link between anticholinergic drugs and an increased risk of dementia.
A study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine suggests that the link is strongest for certain classes of anticholinergic drugs — particularly antidepressants such as paroxetine, bladder antimuscarinics such as oxybutynin, antipsychotics such as chlorpromazine or olanzapine and antiepileptic drugs such as oxcarbazepine [sold under the brand name Trileptal] or carbamazepine [sold under the brand name Tegretol among others].
Researchers wrote in the study that “there was nearly a 50% increased odds of dementia” associated with a total anticholinergic exposure of more than 1,095 daily doses within a 10-year period, which is equivalent to an older adult taking a strong anticholinergic medication daily for at least three years, compared with no exposure.
It has been well known that anticholinergic agents and confusion or memory issues are linked, but the new study investigated this association over a long period of time, said Dr. Douglas Scharre, director of the division of cognitive neurology at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, who was not involved in the study.
He encouraged any patients who might have questions about this association to talk to their physicians.