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Dementia Drugs Could Damage Kidneys in Seniors, Study Suggests

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Health researchers are now warning that a drug commonly used to treat dementia could increase the risk of developing kidney problems.

The finding is based on the work of medical experts at the Lawson Health Sciences Centre in London, Ontario, and Toronto’s Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences. For some time there have been concerns about the relationship between certain drugs for dementia and kidney-related health issues. Recently, the London and Toronto researchers set out to learn more about this suspected link.

The study, which has been published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, involved examining the health records of just under 100,000 Ontario patients aged 65 and older. Most of the patients were prescribed at least one drug designed to treat dementia, including Seroquel (quetiapine) and Risperdal (risperidone), between June 2003 and December 2011. The researchers then compared these health records with those of 100,000 similarly aged people not treated for dementia.

The finding, according to London-based kidney specialist Dr. Amit Garg: those people taking drugs for dementia were twice as likely to suffer acute kidney injury.

Dr. Garg says it’s important to note that people under age 65 are less likely to have these problems when taking drugs for dementia. “They generally would be less at risk of side-effects anyway and they shouldn’t be alarmed by these data,” Garg said.

Nevertheless, the study suggests that dementia patients and their doctors need to be more cautious about using Seroquel and Risperdal. “If there are other options that are available, really explore those,” Garg said.

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