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PTSD medication could expose patients to increased dementia risk

Patients taking PTSD medication could face an increased risk of dementia, a new study suggests.

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About 7 or 8 out of every 100 Americans will experience PTSD at some point in their lives, according to government data. The rates are slightly higher for women than for men with about 10 out of every 100 women developing PTSD sometime in their lives compared to an average of 4 of every 100 men.

The condition is more common among people in the military, with statistics showing that 15% of Vietnam veterans, 12% of Golf War veterans and between 11-20% of those who served in the Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom are suffering from PTSD.

Previous studies have suggested that individuals with PTSD may be at greater risk of cognitive decline and dementia. In addition, a new research focused on veterans trying to see what was the common link between PTSD sufferers and the increased risk of dementia.

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In addition,  the new research focused on veterans trying to see what was the common link between PTSD sufferers and the increased risk of dementia.

Researchers from Iowa’s College of Medicine have looked at a nationwide sample of US veterans, over 417,172, over 56 years old, without a diagnosis of dementia or mild cognitive impairment at tracked their evolution from 2002 till 2012 will follow-up clinical visits every two years.

When the monitoring has started, 22,674 participants had a diagnosis of PTSD but none of the over 400,000 participants had a diagnose for dementia. Over the next nine years, 25,639 of the participants received a dementia diagnosis.

Scientists looked at what kind of medication was prescribed for those suffering from PTSD and found that dementia risks were higher for patients who used selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, novel antidepressants and atypical antipsychotics.

The study also shows that even patients that were not diagnosed with PTSD but were prescribed medication that contained benzodiazepines or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors were at greater risk of developing dementia than the baseline.

But scientists are saying that further research is needed in order to fully understand the link between psychotropic medication and the risk of dementia.

“Further research would help to delineate if these findings are due to differences in PTSD severity, psychiatric comorbidity, or independent effects of psychotropic medications on cognitive decline,” the researchers conclude in their study that was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Sylvia Jacob