Side Effects of Common Drugs Increase Elderly Deaths


A new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society has found out that some side effects of commonly used drugs like antihistamines and antidepressants could increase the risk of early death among elderly people.

prescription drugs in elderlyThe original team from Britain’s University of East Anglia who made the study stated that drug side effects can even reduce brain functions and there is a need for doctors to regularly check on the medications of their elderly patients. This will at least ensure that the said dangerous side effects will not outweigh the benefits that the drugs make on consumers.

The study is the first to investigate on the long-term impact of anticholinergic activity which is a common side effect of most over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Examples of drugs that possess this unwanted after effect are those antihistamines and antidepressants under Piriton, Elavil, Anafranil, Tryptizol and Laroxyl brands. These drugs are usually prescribed to the elderly and their side effect can easily block the brain’s key neurotransmitter known as acetylcholine.

Carol Bayne from the University of Cambridge who also worked on the study says, “It’s important to scrutinize medications given to older people very carefully to try to minimize harm as well as gain the desired benefit.” Doctors do not need to prescribe multiple medications especially those with anticholinergic side effects to minimize the impact of these drugs in the brain.

Other drugs with the same AntiCholinergic Burden include painkillers such as codeine, common asthma treatment drug beclometasone, tranquilizers such as triflouperazine, epilepsy drug Carbamazepine, and the heart drug nifedipine.

The findings in this study should be taken seriously especially its relationship to Alzheimer’s disease, says Susanne Sorensen who heads the research at the Alzheimer’s Society. The loss of cognitive function can lead to the said still untreatable disease and other forms of dementia.

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