Prescription Drug

A recently released study shows that there is an increased risk of dementia in patients who take anticholinergic drugs. The study was done by Indiana University School of Medicine researchers. This is not the first time there has been evidence linking this type of drug with a higher risk of dementia and cognitive impairment.

Paxil Included on List of Anticholinergic Drugs

While most people probably haven’t heard of the anticholinergic class of drugs, the medications' names are more familiar: Benadryl, Dramamine, Demerol, Unisom, Dimetapp, VESIcare and Paxil. Some are available with a prescription, while others are available over the counter. These drugs are used to treat chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, hypertension and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and difficulty sleeping.

The researchers studied 451 people, whose average age was 73. At least one medium to high anticholinergic medication was being taken by 60 of the study’s participants. To detect and identify physiological and physical changes that could be associated with the medications, the researchers analyzed cognitive and memory tests. Magnetic resonance imaging scans were used to determine brain structure and positron emission tomography scans to measure metabolism of the brain.

Subjects Fare Poorly Across Several Tests

According to researchers, the individuals taking anticholinergic drugs did not do as well on cognitive tests, such as those evaluating short-term memory. They also did not do as well on executive function testing, such as those evaluating planning, problem-solving and verbal reasoning.

PET scans showed that the metabolism of glucose was lower, which is a biomarker for activity of the brain in the hippocampus and in the brain overall. The hippocampus is associated with memory and it is affected by Alzheimer’s disease in the early stages. Those people who used anticholinergic drugs were also found to have larger brain ventricles and less brain volume.

An Indiana University Center for Aging study in 2013 found that people who took medications with strong anticholinergic effects for just 60 days had cognitive problems.

Paxil Lawsuits Over Increased Birth Defect Risk

Paxil has been linked to an increased risk of birth defects and the Food and Drug Administration issued an alert about the drug in 2005. Parents of children and some adult patients who are currently using Paxil have filed lawsuits over the medication’s side effects. If you believe that you have been injured or made ill because of the medication Paxil, an attorney in your area can provide more information on your legal options.