Role of anticholinergic burden in primary care patients with first cognitive complaints.Eur J Neurol. 2017 07; 24(7):950-955.EJ
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE
Drugs with anticholinergic properties might have a negative impact on cognition, but findings are still conflicting. The association was evaluated between anticholinergic drugs and cognitive performance in primary care patients with first cognitive complaints.
From April 2013 to March 2014, 353 general practitioners administered the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) to patients presenting with first cognitive complaints. Drug history was collected and the anticholinergic cognitive burden (ACB) was scored and categorized as ACB 0, ACB 1 and ACB 2+. A mixed effect linear regression model was used to assess the association between ACB and MMSE score.
Of 4249 subjects entering the study (mean age 77 ± 8.2 years, 66.4% women and mean years of schooling 8.9 ± 4.5), 25.8% received at least one drug with anticholinergic action. According to multivariate analysis, and after adjustment for several confounders, subjects with ACB 2+ had a statistically significant lower MMSE score compared with those with ACB 0 (β -0.63; 95% confidence interval -1.19; -0.07). Subjects with ACB 1 had a non-statistically significant lower MMSE score than those with ACB 0 (β -0.11; 95% confidence interval -0.37; 0.15).
Anticholinergic medication might affect cognitive function in people with first cognitive complaints. Alternatives should be taken into account when possible, balancing the benefits and harms of these medications.