Study shows common medications can cause an early death to the over 65s: Then there is dementia
A study in 2011 looked at the risks, if any, of taking a cocktail of medication, if you are aged over 65. The results should act as a warning to us all. Younger readers may laugh at the heading above and laugh. Hell when I was in my twenties I thought people in their sixties were long overdue their wooden overcoat. Once you hit that age it is a different matter.
That said who wants to live to a grand old age if they have dementia or Alzheimer's. That is not unless treatments and care have improved a million trillion percent. Old age is all about the quality of life, not the amount of years under your belt.
Many of us as we grow older have to take daily medication. Diabetes and heart problems can be the norm as we age, both of which may require ongoing medical treatment. Add to this the seemingly ordinary pills and potions you may take for an allergy or a cold, for example, and your medicine cupboard could be bugling in no time at all.
The study's results show that it is not so much how many medicines you are taking if you are aged over 65, but what combination of meds you use. The data for this study was collected between 1991 and 1993. It was taken from 1300 patients. This data was originally collected to look into the decline of mental functioning in people aged over 65.
The latest study reanalyzed the information collected. It looked in particular at the participants medication. It found that drugs that have “anticholinergic” side effects seemed to have a link to a mental decline in the patient. These side effects include a dry mouth, reduced mucous secretion and constipation. It seems that such drugs block the transmission of electrical impulses between nerve cells.
In the study, "each drug taken by the participants was given a ranking based on the strength of its anticholinergic activity, or AntiCholinergic Burden (ACB) – 0 for no effect, 1 for mild effect, 2 for moderate effect and 3 for severe effect." This should mean that physicians now have a better idea of the worst offenders.
Now the worrying part of this study is that the drugs involved may seem quite innocuous at first glance. The list included drugs that treat hay-fever up to ones for improving breathing in some chronic lung conditions.
The study claimed to have shown that decreased mental health and an earlier death can occur. However it makes some stark warnings.
The NHS conducted these studies due to the staggering amount of elderly people who now suffer with dementia. Dementia affects around 820,000 people in the UK.
Dementia ravages a patient leaving an empty shell behind. It is cruel for the patient and his or her loved ones. Treatments are improving but they have a long way to go. If we can prevent people getting such illnesses in the first place surely it is better.
If sloppy, casual, or ill thought out prescribing is responsible it is a disgrace.
NOTE: As always the advice is do not stop taking any of your medication without seeking the advice of your health care professional. YOUR medication could in fact be saving your live or keeping you alive.