INDIANAPOLIS 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.
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 cogni
|Contact: Cindy Fox Aisen|
Indiana University School of Medicine