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Anticholinergic drugs lead to cognitive problem in elders

A study says that the drugs used to treat urinary incontinence leads to mild cognitive impairment in elderly people.

india Updated: Feb 02, 2006 13:32 IST

Anticholinergic drugs used to treat illnesses such as irritable bowel syndrome, urinary incontinence, and Parkinson's disease, may lead to mild cognitive impairment in elderly people, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal.

Researchers interviewed 372 elderly people without dementia about current and past illnesses and drug use. Cognitive performance was assessed and participants were monitored for up to eight years.

About 10 percent of the people in the sample took anticholinergic drugs over an extended period. Drug users showed poorer cognitive performance compared with non-users and 80 percent met the criteria for mild cognitive impairment compared with 35 percent of non-users.

Even after taking account of other known risk factors for cognitive impairment, anticholinergic drugs remained the most highly significant predictor of this condition, say the authors.

Given the aim of identifying mild cognitive impairment is the early treatment of dementia, people with mild cognitive impairment due to anticholinergic drugs could be in the absurd situation of receiving pro-cholinergic drugs to counteract the effects of anticholinergic agents, say the authors.

They suggest doctors assess current use of anticholinergic drugs in elderly people with mild cognitive impairment before considering treatment for dementia. (ANI)

First Published: Feb 02, 2006 13:14 IST