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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Common drugs may lead to physical slowdown in elderly

Elderly people who took anticholinergics, a commonly prescribed group of drugs for incontinence, allergy or high blood pressure may experience slowdown in their daily physical activities, said a U.S. study as quoted by media reports Sunday.

The elderly who took anticholinergic drugs that block acetylcholine functioned less well than their peers, said researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine Medicine in North Carolina.

Anticholinergic drugs work by stopping acetylcholine, a chemical that enhances communication between nerve cells in the brain, from binding to its receptors in nerve cells.

"These results were true even in older adults who have normal memory and thinking abilities," said study author Dr. Kaycee M. Sink in a prepared statement.

"The effect is essentially that of a three- to four-year increase in age. So someone who is 75 in our study and taking at least one moderately anticholinergic medication is at a similar functional level to a 78 to 79-year-old," Sink said in an e-mail.

Common anticholinergic medicines cited in the study included the blood pressure medication nifedipine (Adalat or Procardia), the stomach antacid ranitidine (Zantac) and the incontinence medication tolterodine (Detrol).

The reseach, presented at American Geriatrics Society Meeting in Washington, studied 3,000 people of whom 40 percent were taking more than one anticholinergic drug.

The latest findings support Sink's earlier study this month in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society in which she found that older nursing home residents who took drugs for dementia and incontinence at the same time had a 50 percent faster decline in function than those treated only for dementia.

The two studies suggest that physicians should carefully consider the implications when prescribing anticholingeric medications to older adults.

Source : http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-05/04/content_8097809.htm

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