Medicines and Dementia

March 29, 2021

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Anchor lead: What’s behind the use of many medicines in people with dementia? Elizabeth Tracey reports

How many medicines does an older person, and especially one with dementia, really need? A new study finds that 14% of those with dementia are taking medicines that affect the brain, and that can cause more falls and deaths. Constantine Lyketsos, an Alzheimer’s disease expert at Johns Hopkins, says this issue of too many medicines, or polypharmacy, needs more attention.

Lyketsos: There’s a huge debate about the value of statin medicines for 90 or 85 year old people without cardiovascular disease but with an elevated cholesterol if they really need to be on a statin. There’s also controversy about polypharmacy to manage blood pressure. In a much older person who has dementia, once you transition to having dementia there is a case to be made that you need a higher blood pressure to perfuse your vulnerable brain. So if you’re trying to manage the blood pressure to be lower, you might actually be causing more harm than good.  :32

Lyketsos says loved ones must advocate for those with dementia. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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