Health & Wellness

Overactive-Bladder Drug May Boost Dementia Risk

If the news raises concerns for you, there is an alternative

By Wendy Haaf


If you’re taking an anticholinergic drug to treat urinary urgency and frequency (a.k.a. overactive bladder), you might want to consider asking your doctor about switching to a different class of medication.

Canadian researchers examined nearly a decade’s worth of data on more than 60,000 Ontarians diagnosed with overactive bladder. The scientists discovered that while the incidence of developing dementia was slight overall, the rate was 20 per cent higher in those who were taking anticholinergics to treat the condition than among people being treated 
with beta-3 agonists—the other drug class prescribed for overactive bladder. The study results were published in the British Journal of Urology.

Cognitive problems are recognized side effects of anticholinergics, which are medications that block the action of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and are prescribed to treat a wide variety of conditions. Overactive-bladder 
drugs belonging to 
the anticholinergic
 family include
 oxybutynin, and 
solifenacin, and are sold under a number of brand names in Canada.

Photo: iStock/Shidlovski.