Risks of anticholinergic drugs

Adverse effects of drugs among the elderly should be given special attention when considering a pharmacological intervention.

Two recent papers using large electronic health records have explored the impact of drugs with anticholinergic properties.

The first, “Associations between Anticholinergic Burden and Adverse Health Outcomes in Parkinson Disease” view here used a HealthFacts database (Cerner Corporation, Kansas City, Missouri, USA) composed of 16,302 patients with Parkinson disease.

The second “Anticholinergic drugs and risk of dementia: case-control study” view here utilized 14,453 patients with dementia and 86,403 controls from the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink.

Both studies observed a robust relationship between the use of drugs with anticholinergic properties and adverse consequences, including dementia, increased risks of visit to emergency departments and risk of fracture.  Both studies demonstrate the importance of large electronic health record systems in understanding adverse drug events.