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Home > Cognitive decline associated with anticholinergics, benzodiazepines and Z-drugs: Findings from The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA).

Moriarty, Frank and Savva, George M and Grossi, Carlota M and Bennett, Kathleen and Fox, Chris and Maidment, Ian and Loke, Yoon K and Steel, Nicholas and Kenny, Rose Anne and Richardson, Kathryn (2021) Cognitive decline associated with anticholinergics, benzodiazepines and Z-drugs: Findings from The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA). British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 87, (7), pp. 2818-2829. doi: 10.1111/bcp.14687.

External website: https://repository.rcsi.com/articles/preprint/Cogn...

AIMS: To estimate the association between patterns of anticholinergic, benzodiazepine and Z-drug medication use and change in cognitive function in middle-aged and older adults.

METHODS: This prospective cohort study used data from the first three waves of The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA), including community-dwelling adults aged ≥50 years followed for up to 4 years (n = 7027). Cognitive function was assessed using the Mini Mental State Examination, animal naming test and word recall tests. Regular medication use was self-reported at baseline and follow-up interviews at 2 and 4 years. Pharmacy dispensing claims for a subset (n = 2905) allowed assessment of medication use between interviews and cumulative dosage. Medication use at consecutive waves of TILDA was analysed in relation to change in cognitive function between waves.

RESULTS: Strongly anticholinergic medications (Anticholinergic Cognitive Burden scale 3), benzodiazepines and Z-drugs were reported by 7.3%, 5.8% and 5.1% of participants, respectively, at any time during the study. Adjusting for potential confounders, new anticholinergic use between interviews was associated with change in recall score (-1.09, 95% confidence interval -1.64, -0.53) over 2 years compared to non-use, but not with MMSE (0.07; 95% CI -0.21, 0.34) or animal naming (-0.70; 95% CI -1.43, 0.03). The pharmacy claims analysis was consistent with this finding. Other hypothesised associations were not supported.

CONCLUSIONS: Except for new use of anticholinergic medications, no other findings supported a risk of cognitive decline over 2-year periods in this middle-aged and older cohort. Patients and prescribers should weigh this potential risk against potential benefits of commencing anticholinergic medications.


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