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Anticholinergics: Every-Day Drugs With Cognitive Repercussions

By HERWriter
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Certain drugs called anticholinergics block the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Some over-the-counter anticholinergics are Benadryl, Dramamine, Excedrin PM, Nytol, Sominex, Tylenol PM and Unisom. Other anticholinergics like Paxil, Detrol, Demerol and Elavil require a prescription.

A study in "Neurology" reports that these types of drugs can negatively affect the brains of people over 70 years of age with long term cognitive impairment.

"The authors of the study - researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine, the Regenstrief Institute, and Wishard Health Services, all based in Indianapolis - conducted a six-year observational study, evaluating 1,652 area African-Americans over the age of 70 who had normal cognitive function when the study began."

One anticholinergic can increase the risk of mild cognitive impairment. Two of the drugs doubles the risk.

Co-author of the report Dr. Malaz Boustani is also a geriatrician. He tells his patients not to take anticholinergics. He recommends that older adults make a point of discussing all of their medications with their doctors.


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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.