Over the past two decades, considerable data have emerged on an association between drugs with anticholinergic activity and serious adverse effects in older people. Well-recognised anticholinergic adverse effects include dry mouth, blurred vision, constipation and urinary retention. Of particular concern is the potential impact on cognitive function with several studies showing that long-term use of medicines with anticholinergic activity is associated with worsening of cognitive function, increased incidence of dementia and increased mortality. This article gives an overview of the evidence, discusses some of the tools used to identify high-risk drugs and highlights issues to consider when prescribing drugs with anticholinergic activity with a view to reducing potential risks in older people and those at highest risk of cognitive impairment.
- Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions
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Competing interests None declared. Refer to the online supplementary files to view the ICMJE form(s).
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.