A group of chemical drugs known as anticholinergics, which include antidepressants, antispasmodics, Parkinson’s drugs and bladder control medications, among others, may be directly linked to the development of dementia, a studyconducted by researchers from the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom
The largest and most detailed study of its kind has found that long-term use of these drugs is strongly linked to the onset of dementia, sometimes many years later.
For their study, the East Anglia researchers conducted a sophisticated analysis of over 300,000 medical records which included prescriptions for various medications, including Paxil, Elavil, Zyprexa and Seroquel — antidepressant and bipolar medications. Other drugs which proved to be problematic were medications used for bladder conditions and Parkinson’s disease.
“We analyzed people who developed dementia and people who didn’t develop dementia,” explained Professor Chris Cox, one of the study’s authors.
“So our studies for the first time had indicated a strong association between taking certain anticholinergic drugs and the risk of getting dementia.”
Acetylcholine is a substance produced by the body that functions as a neurotransmitter. It acts on nerve cells to deliver chemical messages to the brain. By doing so, acetylcholine can regulate certain biological functions either by speeding them up or slowing them down.The cells involved in the contraction of these muscles have nerve receptors. Those receptive to acetylcholine are considered cholinergic.
When faced with abnormal muscle function, there are drugs that can block acetylcholine by binding to the cholinergic receptors. Without the means to deliver the chemical messages, the contractions can be stopped and the symptoms relieved.
Anticholinergics carry multiple side effects since they indiscriminately interfere with receptors related to muscle contractions, including those involved in learning, memory and sensation.
Side effects include:
- Dry mouth
- Elevated body temperature
- Sore throat
- Sensitivity to light
- Blurred or double vision
- Accelerated heart rate
- Absence of sweating
- Urinary incontinence
- Lack of coordination
- Bowel leakage
- Problems with memory
- Lack of coherence
- Difficulty concentrating
- A tendency to startle easily
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), dementia is a progressive condition caused by one of several brain illnesses that affect thinking, memory, behavior and the ability to cope with normal everyday activities.
Over 47 million people worldwide have been diagnosed with dementia, and that number is expected to rise to over 75 million by 2030, and to triple by 2050.
Dementia is a devastating diagnosis for both the patients and their caregivers. In many countries, sufferers are stigmatized, and patients and their families are damaged psychologically, emotionally and economically.
Dementia costs the planet around $818 billion each year, and that figure is set to keep escalating.
With Inputs from Natural News
Suicide can’t be predicted by asking about suicidal thoughts : Study
Most people who died of suicide deny they experience suicidal thoughts when asked by doctors in the weeks and months leading up to their death, a major Australian study has found.
The findings, co-authored by clinical psychiatrist and Professor Matthew Large from UNSW’s School of Psychiatry, Sydney that published in the journal BJPsych Open The meta-analysis challenge the widely-held assumption that psychiatrists can predict who will suicide by asking if they are preoccupied with thoughts of killing themselves.
The study showed that 80% of patients who were not undergoing psychiatric treatment and who died of suicide reported not to have suicidal thoughts when asked by their psychiatrist or GP.
“If you meet someone who has suicidal ideation there is a 98 per cent chance that they are not going to suicide,” said Professor Large, an international expert on suicide risk assessment who also works in the emergency department of a major Sydney hospital.
“But what we didn’t know was how frequently people who go on to suicide have denied having suicidal thoughts when asked directly,” he added.
“This study proves we can no longer ration psychiatric care based on the presence of suicidal thoughts alone. We need to provide high-quality, patient-centred care for everyone experiencing mental illness, whether or not they reveal they are experiencing suicidal thoughts,” Professor Large said.
About one in 10 people will have suicidal ideation in their lifetime. But the study showed suicidal ideation alone was not rational grounds for deciding who gets treatment and who does not, Professor Large said.
“We know that suicide feeling is pretty common and that suicide is actually a rare event, even among people with severe mental illness,” Professor Large added.
Suicidal ideation tells us an awful lot about how a person is feeling, their psychological distress, sometimes their diagnosis and their need for treatment but it’s not a meaningful test of future behaviour.
Suicidal feelings can fluctuate rapidly and people may suicide very impulsively after only a short period of suicidal thoughts.
But, people had good reasons not to disclose thoughts of suicide, fearing stigma, triggering over-reactions or upsetting family and friends, and being involuntarily admitted for psychiatric treatment, Professor Large said.
Professor Large emphasized that clinicians should not assume that patients experiencing mental distress without reporting suicidal ideas were not at elevated risk of suicide.