Drug-induced dementia

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By K K Jain MD

Drug-induced dementia is also known as or subsumes Drug-induced cerebral insufficiency. -ed.

Drug-induced dementias fall under the broad category of pseudodementias, which differentiates them from dementias associated with degenerative neurologic disorders, as well as under the category of reversible dementias, which imply that the manifestations improve following discontinuation of the offending drug. A number of drugs can induce dementia, but significant categories are anticholinergic drugs, antiepileptics, antineoplastic drugs, and sedative-hypnotics. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, is also associated with a number of drugs. This article explores the pathomechanism, diagnosis, and management of drug-induced dementia.

Key Points

  • Drugs, particularly as polypharmacy, are the leading cause of dementia in the elderly.
  • Drugs such as anticholinergic agents are more likely to produce dementia.
  • Drug-induced dementia has no characteristic features, except in the situations where it is accompanied by other drug-induced symptoms.
  • Drugs known to produce dementia should be avoided in persons who have risk factors predisposing them to dementia.