Stability of anticholinergic load in Australian community-dwelling older people: a longitudinal analysis

Karen E Mate, Michelle Barnett, Karen P Kerr, C Dimity Pond, Parker J Magin
Family Practice 2019 November 30

BACKGROUND: It is recommended that anticholinergic medication is avoided in older people, especially those with cognitive impairment.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate anticholinergic load (ACL) over time in older primary care patients with and without cognitive impairment.

METHODS: Community-dwelling general practice patients at baseline (n = 1768), at year one (n = 1373) and a restricted cohort (with possible or definite cognitive impairment) at year two (n = 370) had medication regimens documented by a research nurse during a home visit. Anticholinergic medicines were categorized as levels 1-3 (low-high potency) and summed for each participant as a measure of their ACL.

RESULTS: Most participants had no change in ACL over time, but there was some turnover in the anticholinergic medications used. The mean change in ACL was 0.012 ± 0.99 from baseline to 12 months and -0.04 ± 1.3 from baseline to 24 months. Cardiovascular drugs were the most commonly used level 1 anticholinergics, followed by antidepressants and opioids. Antidepressants and urologicals were the most commonly used level 3 anticholinergics. The rate of anticholinergic deprescribing was equivalent to the rate of anticholinergic initiation, and commonly involved the level 1 drugs warfarin, furosemide and temazepam, and the level 3 drugs amitriptyline and oxybutynin. People with dementia had a higher ACL at baseline and year one compared with other participants.

CONCLUSION: ACL of community-dwelling older people was very stable over time. This may represent lost opportunities for deprescribing as well as potentially inappropriate prescribing, particularly in those with cognitive impairment.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"