Study links overactive bladder medications to dementia risk

A recent study published by Wonsik Ham and Jisoo Park from the Department of Urology at Yonsei University Severance Hospital found that anticholinergics and beta-3 agonists used to treat overactive bladder may increase the risk of developing dementia. The study, published in the international journal European Urology Focus, analyzed the relationship between these drugs and the incidence of dementia.


Key features and prevalence of overactive bladder

Overactive bladder is a common geriatric condition that is primarily caused by a decline in the function of the detrusor nerve and bladder muscles. According to the Korean Society of Continence and Urinary Incontinence, about 12% of adults in Korea suffer from this condition, and it can also occur in younger people due to stress or mental issues.

Research methods and participant composition

The study utilized the National Health Insurance Service’s database and included a total of 3.452 million overactive bladder patients. The study participants were divided into three groups: anticholinergic monotherapy, beta-3 agonist monotherapy, and a combination of both drugs, and the risk of developing dementia was monitored for 22 months.

Research findings and dementia incidence

At the end of the study, 5.8% of all participants developed dementia. Specifically, the incidence was 6.7% in the combination arm, 6.3% in the anticholinergic monotherapy arm, and 3.1% in the beta-3 agonist monotherapy arm. This suggests that increasing cumulative use of beta-3 agonists may be associated with a higher risk of dementia.

Research support and conclusions

This research was supported by the Ministry of Science and ICT and the Korea Research Foundation’s Mid-Career Researchers Support Program. The researchers concluded that the combination of beta-3 agonists and anticholinergics in particular increased the risk of dementia compared to monotherapy. These results emphasize the need for a more cautious approach when prescribing medications for overactive bladder, taking into account the risk of dementia.

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