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Keywords:

  • aged;
  • anticholinergic drugs;
  • cognition;
  • pharmacoepidemiology

Objectives

To measure the association between the use of drugs with anticholinergic properties and cognitive performance in an elderly population, the PAQUID cohort.

Methods

The sample studied was composed of 1780 subjects aged 70 and older, living at home in South western France. Data on socio-demographic characteristics, medical history and drug use were collected using a standardized questionnaire. Cognitive performance was assessed using the following neuropsychological tests: the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) which evaluates global cognitive functioning, the Benton Visual Retention Test (BVRT) which assesses immediate visual memory, and the Isaacs’ Set Test (IST) which assesses verbal fluency. For each test, scores were dichotomized between low performance and normal to high performance using the score at the 10th percentile of the study sample as the cut-off point, according to age, gender and educational level. The association between the use of drugs with anticholinergic properties and cognitive performance was examined using logistic regression models, adjusting for several potential confounding factors.

Results

About 13.7% of the subjects used at least one drug with anticholinergic properties. In multivariate analyses, the use of these drugs was significantly associated with low performance in the BVRT [odds ratio (OR) = 1.6; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.1, 2.3] and in the IST (OR = 1.9; 95% CI 1.3, 2.8). The association found with low performance in the MMSE (OR = 1.4; 95% CI 1.0, 2.1) was barely statistically significant.

Conclusion

These findings suggest that the use of drugs with anticholinergic properties is associated with low cognitive performance among community-dwelling elderly people.