Aim The aim was to investigate associations between drugs with anticholinergic effects (DACEs) and cognitive impairment, falls and all-cause mortality in older adults. Methods A literature search using CINAHL, Cochrane Library, Embase and PubMed databases was conducted for randomized controlled trials, prospective and retrospective cohort and case-control studies examining the use of DACEs in subjects ≥65 years with outcomes on falls, cognitive impairment and all-cause mortality. Retrieved articles were published on or before June 2013. Anticholinergic exposure was investigated using drug class, DACE scoring systems (anticholinergic cognitive burden scale, ACB; anticholinergic drug scale, ADS; anticholinergic risk scale, ARS; anticholinergic component of the drug burden index, DBIAC) or assessment of individual DACEs. Meta-analyses were performed to pool the results from individual studies. Results Eighteen studies fulfilled the inclusion criteria (total 124 286 participants). Exposure to DACEs as a class was associated with increased odds of cognitive impairment (OR 1.45, 95% CI 1.16, 1.73). Olanzapine and trazodone were associated with increased odds and risk of falls (OR 2.16, 95% CI 1.05, 4.44; RR 1.79, 95% CI 1.60, 1.97, respectively), but amitriptyline, paroxetine and risperidone were not (RR 1.73, 95% CI 0.81, 2.65; RR 1.80, 95% CI 0.81, 2.79; RR 1.39, 95% CI 0.59, 3.26, respectively). A unit increase in the ACB scale was associated with a doubling in odds of all-cause mortality (OR 2.06, 95% CI 1.82, 2.33) but there were no associations with the DBIAC (OR 0.88, 95% CI 0.55, 1.42) or the ARS (OR 3.56, 95% CI 0.29, 43.27). Conclusions Certain individual DACEs or increased overall DACE exposure may increase the risks of cognitive impairment, falls and all-cause mortality in older adults.
- all-cause mortality
- cognitive impairment
- drugs with anticholinergic effects
- older adults
- risk scoring systems