Controversies in anticholegenic medication use and cognitive impairment

Fox, Christopher and Richardson, Kathryn and Boustani, Malaz and Maidment, Ian D. and Smithard, David and Katona, Cornelius and Livingstone, Gill and Savva, George and Coulton, Simon and Matthews, Fiona E. and Brayne, Carol (2009) Controversies in anticholegenic medication use and cognitive impairment. Alzheimers & Dementia, 5 (4). e19. ISSN 1552-5260. (doi: (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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As many as 40% of older people are prescribed medications with anticholinergic activity. Studies have suggested the significant effect of anticholinergic medication on cognition but there is controversy. Objective: Analysis of 15908 patients impact of anticholinergic drugs on cognition. Methods: The anticholinergic burden scale (ABS) coded drugs 0 (none), 1 (mild), 2 (moderate), or 3 (severe). Scores were summed for each participant to give a total Anticholinergic Cognitive Burden (ACB) score. Study 1 MRC CFAS with 11,994 participants and cross sectional coding part of a 19 year longitudinal; Study 2 LASER-AD - Dementia Specific 18 month longitudinal with 224 participants. Study 3 SAP REDS USA 1 year follow up with 3690 participants. Study 1 MRC-CFAS - A statistically significant dose-response relation was observed between increasing ACB score and decreasing MMSE, e.g. those with an ACB score of 5 or greater were associated with making 21% (95%CI 8%-35%) more errors on the MMSE. The relationship with cognitive impairment was only seen for ACB conferred by Central Nervous System medications, in particular antipsychotics. Study 2 LASER AD - Anti-cholinergic burden had no significant effect on cognitive decline at 18 months as assessed by the ADAS-cog. The ADAS-cog decreased by a mean of 4.63 in the cohort of patients with an ACB of 0, compared with a mean decrease of 7.4 in patients with an ACB of>0 (mean difference=2.83; t=1.107; df=100; p=0.271; CI-2.24-7.9). Study 3 SAP REDS - Anticholinergic burden for 60 days was associated with a significant effect on cognitive decline as measured by the Community Screening Interview for Dementia odds ratio 1.55p<0.05 (CI-1.05-2.29) with a possible burden dose response effect. Conclusion: An inverse relation existed between the anticholinergic burden of current medication use and cognition in study 1 and study 3; in study 1 the association was driven by the ACB of CNS medications. However, in study 2 no association was detected. Thus the abandonment of use of medication with anticholinergic effects may not be warranted. Further research is required to determine the clinical relevance.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research > Centre for Health Services Studies
Depositing User: Tony Rees
Date Deposited: 25 Jun 2012 15:44 UTC
Last Modified: 15 May 2014 11:27 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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