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Dementia Drugs Put Patients at Risk

Side effects associated with several commonly-prescribed dementia drugs may be putting elderly patients at risk Gill.

Cholinesterase inhibitors such as Aricept, Exelon and Reminyl are often prescribed for people with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, because they increase the level of a chemical in the brain that seems to help memory. However, the drugs are known to provoke slower heart rates and fainting episodes.

In a large study, researchers discovered that people who used cholinesterase inhibitors were hospitalized for fainting almost twice as often. Experiencing a slowed heart-rate was also 69 percent more common amongst cholinesterase inhibitor users. In addition, people taking the dementia drugs had a 49 percent increased chance of having permanent pacemakers implanted and an 18 percent increased risk of hip fractures.

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