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Impact of anticholinergics on the aging brain: A review and practical application

Objective: In an effort to enhance medication prescribing for older adults and reduce the burden of cognitive impairment, this paper reviews the literature regarding the negative impact of anticholinergics on cognitive function and provides clinicians with a practical guidance for anticholinergic use in older adults.

Methods: A Medline search identified studies evaluating the use of anticholinergics and the relationship between anticholinergics and cognitive impairment.

Results: Prescribing anticholinergics for older adults leads to acute cognitive impairment and, possibly, chronic cognitive deficits. Assessing anticholinergic burden with a simple scale may represent a useful noninvasive tool to optimize geriatric pharmacotherapy.

Conclusions: More studies are needed to validate the Anticholinergic Cognitive Burden scale and establish therapeutic guidelines in the presence of cognitive anticholinergic adverse effects.

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