anticholinergic drugs

  1. Common meds raise death risk

    Study finds new death risk for common meds

    It's the study every senior on the planet needs to see right now: Some of the world's most common drugs can dramatically boost your risk of an early death when taken together.

    Sleeping pills, blood thinners, antihistamines, antidepressants, painkillers -- you name it, there's a med on this list you're familiar with, and probably one or two you or someone you love has taken today.

    These drugs all block a key brain chemical -- bad enough when you take just one... but take two, three or more, and it's like a sucker punch inside your skull.

    Researchers analyzed 80 meds and gave each one a rating based on its "anticholinergic" effect: one point for mild effects, two for moderate and three for the most severe.

    I don't think there's any such thing as "mild" when it comes to brain-slowing meds... but I suppose a slow brain is better than a dead one.

    And that's what you could get if your "score" is four or more: Researchers say a look at data on 13,000 seniors found that 20 percent of those who took four points' worth of anticholinergic meds were dead within two years... versus just 7 percent of seniors who hadn't taken any of these drugs.

    But let's face it -- four points is nothing in the Big Pharma ballgame.

    Some seniors gobble these meds by the handful, and the researchers wrote in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society that every point above four caused the death risk to shoot up another 25 percent.

    That's not all these meds did -- patients with a score of five or more who managed to beat the death risk suffered a 4 percent plunge in brain function.

    That might sound small, but it's enough to push a senior teetering on the brink of dementia right over the edge.

    Now, let's figure out your score -- and my method involves no math at all. Take a look at this list of anticholinergic drugs.

    If you're taking ANY of them, your score is already too high (like I said, I don't believe in "mild" when it comes to these meds).

    Speak to your doctor about getting off them today -- and if he won't help, find a new doctor.

  2. What's REALLY causing your memory loss

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    What's REALLY causing your memory loss

    Have you ever considered that maybe it's not your age that's making things slip your mind? Maybe premature senility isn't what's making you more forgetful these days. In fact, it could be those motion sickness pills you took. Or that medication for your stomach ulcer. That's right: as if getting older wasn't already complicated enough, a new study has discovered that common medications known as anticholinergic drugs may cause seniors to lose their thinking skills more quickly.

    It's an unnerving discovery given the fact that those who are up in years are often prescribed so many different medications. The drugs that appear to hasten memory loss and hinder thinking skills work by blocking the binding of a brain chemical called acetylcholine to its receptor nerve cells.

    Dr. Jack Tsao, a neurologist from Uniformed Services University in Bethesda led the study that found that "being on these drugs does worsen your cognitive performance." The research focused on the effect of medications on patients whose average age was 75. The study concluded that medications used to treat bladder problems and Parkinson's Disease seemed to have the most degenerative effect on memory.

    Tsao downplayed the effects of these drugs, however. "In the course of a few years, there is a small slippage. It's a minor effect," he said.

    Minor or not, it should come as no shock that the law of unintended consequences is constantly at work when your body is full of prescription drugs. Not that you'll ever hear that from the FDA

    Fortunately, there are natural ways to boost your memory.

    Boost your memory with this daily supplement

    Ginko biloba has long been a staple herb for homeopathy. It's chock-full of powerful antioxidants called flavoglycosides, which have been proven to have neuro-protective effects in animal models of spinal chord injury. And now, recent research has added a new skill to its resume: memory booster.

    The report was published the journal Neurology, and said that the ginko biloba supplement had the potential to reduce the risk of developing mild memory problems by a whopping 68 percent in healthy older adults with no previous history of memory problems. Unfortunately, there's no room for error with this strict regimen. The test subjects who strayed from the regimen and had different levels of compliance with the program had no benefits from the treatment whatever.

    So it's a case of "remember to take your supplements or else you'll forget."

    However, the researchers cautioned that there was a potential downside to the ginko supplement - a big one. There was a slight increase in the risk of stroke or mini stroke. "Ginkgo has been reported to cause bleeding-related complications, but the strokes in this case were due to blood clots, not excessive bleeding, and were generally not severe," said Dodge.

    As is true with so many medications - natural and man-made - the key is taking them in the proper doses and at the proper time. Ginko biloba is no different. But I'm encouraged that there continues to be serious research done to prove that real-life medical problems can be healed through natural cures.

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