Drugs that increase mortality in the elderly

Published on : 29 November 20212 min reading time

Many seniors are currently taking too many drugs, and some are even addicted to certain drugs prescribed by their doctors. Many of the drugs taken regularly have been shown to cause problems with balance, vision, memory, muscle weakness and incoherent speech.
A recent study has shown that more than 70 drugs commonly prescribed by doctors are associated with cognitive decline in the elderly. Numerous drugs regularly taken by seniors and the elderly are believed to promote cognitive decline. These molecules, some of which are sold without a prescription, have the particularity of having what is called an anti-cholinergic effect. This is in fact a substance belonging to a pharmacological class of compounds which aim to reduce the effects of acetylcholine, a cerebral neurotransmitter which plays a mediating role in the nervous system. As a result, patients experience problems with balance, vision, memory, muscle weakness and incoherent speech. These drugs are antidepressants (Elavil, Laroxyl, Tofranil), tranquillisers (Largactil, Terfluzine), cough suppressants (Broncalene, Broncorinol), antihypertensive drugs (Atenolol), diuretics (Aldalix, Furosemide), antiashmatics (Asmabec, Beclojet), anti-epileptics (Tegretol) but also molecules prescribed for the treatment of glaucoma (Azarga, Combigan, Cosopt) or for urinary incontinence (Ditropan, Oxybutynin) These side effects are well known, as a team of researchers had already pointed out this problem. An English study considers that drugs with an anti-cholinergic effect increase mortality in the elderly. Thus, 20% of patients who took several drugs with this effect died during the two years of the study, compared to only 7% of patients who did not take any of these drugs. The cause and effect relationship is simple: as these drugs increase falls, mortality increases. The increase in mortality linked to the anti-cholinergic effect raises the question of excesses in terms of medical prescriptions. Geriatricians must be vigilant about overprescribing and should not hesitate to remove all products containing anti-cholinergics. This does not mean that these drugs should be withdrawn from the market, because although these molecules are likely to be harmful to the elderly, they are not harmful to the rest of the population. As a result, there has been a drop in the number of prescriptions for neuroleptics in retirement homes, hospitals and outpatient clinics.

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