Older adults are at an increased risk of developing dementia due to the intake of commonly prescribed medicines, especially anticholinergic drugs, according to a study.

The research paper suggested that the risk of dementia is higher in people consuming strongest type of anticholinergic drugs. Some of the drugs that could increase the risk of dementia are antipsychotics, antidepressants, bladder antimuscarinics and anti epileptic drugs.

According to the academics, an individual who is exposed to over 1,095 daily doses of anticholinergic within a span of 10 years is at around 50% increased risk of dementia. This is equivalent to the consumption of a strong anticholinergic medication daily by an older adult for nearly three years, compared to those with no exposure of this drug.

The study, titled Anticholinergic Drug Exposure and the Risk of Dementia, was published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine on Monday.

 “The study is important because it strengthens a growing body of evidence showing that strong anticholinergic drugs have long term associations with dementia risk,” lead researcher Carol Coupland, who is a professor of medical statistics in primary care at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, told CNN.

The researcher also said the study highlights different types of anticholinergic drugs that are highly linked to the increased risk of dementia. This important information will help the physicians to be very alert while prescribing these drugs to the patients.

For the study,  researchers collected data of a large anonymized health record of 12 years from QResearch. Then the academics analyzed the data of 2,84,343 adults in the UK belonging to the age group of 55 and older.

During the analysis, the scientists identified anticholinergic exposure of each participant based on the details of their prescriptions. While analyzing the prescriptions, the academics found that most frequently prescribed anticholinergic drugs were bladder antimuscarinic drugs, antidepressants, drugs for treating vomiting, motion sickness and drugs to treat vertigo.

The researcher also found that over 58,000 participants had a dementia diagnosis. They even found that participants with higher exposure to anticholinergic drugs had an increased risk of dementia compared to those who consumed lowest anticholinergic drugs.

The researchers did not find any increased risk of dementia linked to gastrointestinal antispasmodics, antihistamines, antimuscarinic bronchodilators, antiarrhythmics or skeletal muscle relaxants.

However, the study had some limitations as the researchers could not find a causal relationship between dementia risk and anticholinergic drugs. They could only find an association with the two.

“This is an observational study so no firm conclusions can be drawn about whether these anticholinergic drugs cause dementia,” the lead researcher said.

The researcher also advised the people taking these medications to continue consuming it until their doctor asks them to stop taking them.

“However, if this association is causal, the population-attributable fractions indicate that around 10% of dementia diagnoses are attributable to anticholinergic drug exposure, which would equate, for example, to around 20,000 of the 209,600 new cases of dementia per year in the United Kingdom,” the researchers stated in the study.

Dementia Up to one-third of the world’s dementia cases could be prevented by addressing factors such as education, hypertension, diet, hearing loss and depression over the course of a person’s lifetime, according to a new report, July 19, 2017. In this photo, a Chinese elder who suffers from senile dementia plays with a doll as a treatment to remind her of the old days at the Cihui Rehabilitation Center for the Aged in China, Sept. 2, 2005. Photo: Getty Images