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Anticholinergic Drug Use and Risk to Cognitive Performance in Older Adults with Questionable Cognitive Impairment: A Cross-Sectional Analysis

Anticholinergic Drug Use and Risk to Cognitive Performance in Older Adults with Questionable Cognitive Impairment: A Cross-Sectional Analysis

Drugs and Aging 33(11): 809-818

Age-associated decline in central cholinergic activity makes older adults susceptible to the harmful effects of anticholinergic (AC) medications; however, there is an inadequate understanding of the association and possible effects of AC drugs on cognition. This cross-sectional study examines the associations of AC medications on cognition among older adults with questionable cognitive impairment (QCI). For this cross-sectional study, we used a multicenter database of community-dwelling older adults (N = 7351) aged 60+ years with QCI, from September 2005 to March 2014, as the baseline data. The Anticholinergic Drug Scale was used to categorize AC drug load into no, low, or moderate/high groups. Individuals with a Clinical Dementia Rating-Sum of Boxes score between 0.5 and 2.5 were identified as having QCI, while cognitive performance was evaluated using the Neuropsychological Test Battery. The mean z-scores of neuropsychological tests were grouped into a global cognition score. Participants who took AC medications were older, largely female, and had a higher prevalence of incontinence than those without AC exposure. Global cognition was significantly greater in the moderate/high-AC group than the no-AC group (-0.23 ± 0.53 vs. -0.32 ± 0.53). Multivariable linear regression showed that the global cognition score among the low- and moderate/high-AC groups, compared with the no-AC group, was 0.064 higher (p = 0.006 and p = 0.12, respectively). This cross-sectional study indicates that older adults with QCI who were exposed to AC medications might have higher global cognitive scores than those without AC exposure. The observed associations indicate that older adults might experience some beneficial cognitive effects from AC drugs, possibly due to the therapeutic effects of these medications in controlling comorbidities, thus outweighing their adverse effects on cognition.

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Accession: 057211034

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 27638818

DOI: 10.1007/s40266-016-0400-3

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