Trying to get to sleep at night by taking your favorite over-the-counter sleep medicine? Taking that nightly Unisom® just may contribute to mental decline as you get older in age.
A recent study provides further evidence that common anticholinergic drugs found in neighborhood Grand Rapids stores are linked to increased long-term cognitive impairment, including memory loss, for individuals. Also, for the first time, scientists found a link between these drugs and death.
Researchers from the UK-based Medical Research Council Cognitive Function and Ageing Studies (CFAS) conducted the two-year study which evaluated 13,000 men and women aged 65 and older, including their medication usage and health consequences from such medications.
“Our findings make it clear that clinicians need to review the cumulative anticholinergic burden in people presenting with cognitive impairment to determine if the drugs are causing decline in mental status,” states co-author Malaz Boustani, M.D., Regenstrief Institute investigator, Indiana University School of Medicine associate professor of medicine, and research scientist with the IU Center for Aging Research.
Anticholinergics are drugs that block acetylcholine, a nervous system neurotransmitter. This chemical plays a key role in involuntary movements of smooth muscle, mainly in organs located in the urinary and gastrointestinal tracts as well as the lungs. Individuals that take these drugs are usually treating chronic conditions such as hypertension, congestive heart failure, and incontinence.
Examples of common anticholinergic drugs are brand names such as Benadryl®, Dramamine®, Excedrin PM®, Nytol®, Sominex®, Tylenol PM®, and Unisom®, Other anticholinergics that are available by prescription are Paxil®, Detrol®, Demerol® and Elavil®.
The study, published today in an online version of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, also found that individuals that were older, made less money, and had a greater number of health ailments were more likely to use these medications. Women were also more likely to take these anticholinergic medications than men due to their health conditions.
The current study is also similar to a study completed a year ago by IU scientists that found a link between anticholinergic usage and mental impairment in African-Americans.
The researchers used the Anticholinergic Cognitive Burden Scale developed at the Regenstrief Institute, Indiana University and in the United Kingdom.
Subscribe to my page to get instant alerts when I write a new article. Follow me on Twitter at SciNewsExaminer.