Anticholinergic Study – The effects on cognitive impairment in the elderly

The results of a clinical study were recently published, looking specifically at the use of anticholinergics (cumulative) and the development of dementia for people over the age of 65. 1   Results from the study showed that the long-term use of one, or several, drugs with an anticholinergic effect could be associated with increased risk of developing dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. 1 Together with allergy related conditions (such as hay fever) and depression; anticholinergics are regularly used in the treatment of overactive bladder (OAB) and have been for a number of years. There are many OAB drugs available and these differ in their likelihood to cause anticholinergic side effects outside of the bladder

If you, or those you care for are currently taking anticholinergics, have concerns or may be worried about the study results and effects of anticholinergics on dementia, we advise you to discuss this directly with your/ their healthcare professional. Alternatively, please call the Bladder and Bowel Foundation Helpline on: 0845 345 0165

Please do not stop taking your medication unless your doctor specifically directs you, or those you care for, to do so.

We shouldn’t underestimate the importance of treating OAB, particularly in the elderly. Relief of symptoms to this patient group can be the cause of loss of independence,2 it can also be linked to falls (especially with the increased need to use the toilet at night time) which in turn has an increased fracture risk. 2

 1 Larson et al. Cumulative Use of Strong Anticholinergics and Incident Dementia. JAMA Intern Med 2015  
 2 Peters, J et al. Quality in the Community – Practical advice to optimise care and reduce inefficiencies in the local management of Overactive Bladder. Pulse supplement. June, 2014

Date of preparation – March 19th 2015