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Dementia warning: Common bladder drug could increase the risk of brain decline twofold

Dr Zoe says walking can reduce risk of dementia

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There are currently 55 million people afflicted by dementia around the globe, but these figures are only expected to climb in coming years. The progressions of cognitive decline cannot be stopped, but knowing the risk factors could delay, if not prevent some cases. One class of bladder drugs could be a lesser-known risk factor for dementia, according to a recent study.

Antimuscarinic agents are predominantly used in pharmacological treatment for patients with an overactive bladder.

They are a subclass of anticholinergic drugs, which have been associated with a heightened risk of dementia in a number of studies.

The drug works by blocking acetylcholine, a chemical that is critical in the functioning of the nervous system.

By blocking these functions in the brain, research has shown it alters cognition.

READ MORE: Dementia: One of the ‘first’ subtle changes in personality that may be seen in your 40s

In a recent study, published in the journal Nature in May 2021, researchers set out to probe the association between bladder antimuscarinic users and the risk of developing dementia.

They noted: “After adjusting for potential confounders, antimuscarinic users exhibited a 2.46 fold increased risk of dementia compared with that in non-users.

“As for medication use, patients using aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, statins, anxiolytics, and hypnotics, exhibited a low risk of developing dementia.

“On the contrary, those using anti-depressants drugs, anti-Parkinson’s disease drugs, and antipsychotic drugs showed a higher risk of developing dementia.”

Based on these findings, researchers recommend consulting a health practitioner before starting treatment with the drug.

How to prevent dementia

Because the true cause of dementia is unknown, preventing the disease is not a straightforward process.

Advice consistently issued by health bodies includes eating healthy, exercising regularly, and avoiding smoking.

But some scientific investigations have uncovered a plethora of information to assist individuals in the prevention of cognitive decline.

It’s been shown, for instance, that the addition of flavonoid-rich foods to one’s diet could prevent and slow down cognitive decline associated with ageing.

What’s more, the MIND diet – which is designed to slow mental decline – could slash the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 53 percent.

The diet combines the Mediterranean and DASH dietary patterns, which are both renowned for their heart-healthy benefits.

The MIND diet encourages followers to emphasise antioxidant-rich foods such as green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach and collard greens.

The molecules in the foods can protect against the damage to brain cells associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Berries, nuts and olive oils are also encouraged, whereas red meat, saturated fats and sugar are widely advised against.

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