Most people who reach the age of 65 start to worry about forgetting things and losing their mental sharpness-but the risk can be reduced by lowering the number of pharmaceutical drugs they're taking, a new study has concluded.
Multiple medications-known as polypharmacy-can fog the brain, while diabetes and high blood pressure (hypertension) drugs can also accelerate cognitive decline, say researchers from the University of Michigan Medical School.
It's a difficult balance to get right, say the researchers, but doctors and patients shouldn't overdo the pharmaceutical response to hypertension and diabetes. Low blood pressure and low blood sugar are directly associated to cognitive performance.
Although no drugs can slow or reverse mild cognitive impairment-when memory or cognitive problems don't interfere significantly with daily living-there's much that can be done, and especially when you reach the age of 65, the researchers say.
Aerobic exercise, mental activity and having an active social life can all help prevent or slow mild cognitive decline, but keeping an eye on the number of drugs you're taking could be just as important.
(Source: Journal of the American Medical Association, 2014; 312(23): 2551)