Common class of drugs linked to onset of Alzheimer’s – Scientific Inquirer

As we age more and more people develop Alzheimer's disease.  This form of dementia is a specific one with 'tangles' and tau proteins infiltrating parts of the brain.  It is only one form of dementia.

Given the growing number of aged people and increasing life span, Alzheimer's Disorder has become a public health problem. People with Alzheimer's disease do not usually die from it and are victim to other disorders of aging, heart disease, hypertension, cancer, or kidney disease.  Sadly it robs them, family and friends of a loved one.

Researchers have searched for a "cause" suspecting toxins, drugs, environmental and immune disorders.  Alzheimer's disorder seems to have become more prevalent in a time when patients are subject to the use of many more drugs.  Could this be a factor in Alzheimer's Disorder?

A team of scientists, led by researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, report that a class of drugs used for a broad array of conditions, from allergies and colds to hypertension and urinary incontinence, may be associated with an increased risk of cognitive decline, particularly in older adults at greater risk for Alzheimer’s disease (AD)

The study done at the University of California San Diego is published in Neurology found that patients taking anticholernigic drugs (AD) and who had genetic markers for AD were four times more likely to develop MCI (mild cognitive impairment) a term which is inclusive of AD)

Anticholinergics can treat a variety of conditions, including:

Urinary incontinence, overactive bladder (OAB), chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), certain types of poisoning

They also help block involuntary muscle movements associated with certain diseases such as Parkinson’s disease. Sometimes, they’re used before surgery to help maintain body functions while a person is treated with anesthesia.

List of anticholinergics

Anticholinergics are only available with a doctor’s prescription. Examples of these drugs include:

atropine (Atropine)
belladonna alkaloids
benztropine mesylate (Cogentin)
cyclopentolate (Cyclogyl)
darifenacin (Enablex)
fesoterodine (Toviaz)
flavoxate (Urispas)
homatropine hydrobromide
hyoscyamine (Levsinex)
ipratropium (Atrovent)
oxybutynin (Ditropan XL)
propantheline (Pro-banthine)
solifenacin (VESIcare)
tiotropium (Spiriva)
tolterodine (Detrol)

All of these drugs are very commonly used in elderly patients.

To add to this list we must also include certain other drug classes that are used for other purposes and have anticholernigic properties, such as Benadryl  (diphenhydramine (commonly used for allergy.

Many of these drugs are used and coexist with patients with Alzheimer's disorder. Add to this as we age are metabolic changes. Dosage may be a factor for elderly patients.  Doses should be adjusted appropriately.

There is conflicting information regarding the role of tau proteins, neurofibrillary tangle in AD. Are they cause, or effect?

Some information examines the role of gum disease, specifically the presence of the bacterium, p.gingivales.

There are many confounding factors for investigators to tease out in their search for a cause.

Common class of drugs linked to onset of Alzheimer’s – Scientific Inquirer