Upcoming Webinars Archived Webinars Training Vitals Host A Webinar About Get Updates Contact

Anticholinergic Medication Use May Increase Hospital Visits



Both prescription and over-the-counter medications used to treat depression, pain and sleep problems, contain anticholinergic drugs.

Share this!

January 3, 2017 | by Sarah Hand, M.Sc.

A study conducted at Indiana University Center for Aging Research, Indiana University (IU) Center for Health Innovation and Implementation Science, and Regenstrief Institute, has found that older adults taking anticholinergic medications may visit the hospital more often. Both prescription and over-the-counter medications used to treat depression, pain and sleep problems, contain anticholinergic drugs.

According to the study – which was published in the journal, Phamacotherapy – as many as 50 percent of adults 65 years and older regularly use drugs with anticholinergic properties, with some individuals taking multiple anticholinergic medications on a regular basis. Using the Regenstrief Medical Record System, the investigators of the current study analyzed dispensing data for prescription drugs to determine how much of these drugs patients are taking, and compares them to hospital and emergency department visits.

“Anticholinergics, the medications that block acetylcholine, a nervous system neurotransmitter, have previously been implicated as a potential cause of cognitive impairment, by us and by other researchers,” said lead researcher, Dr. Noll Campbell, IU Center for Aging Research and Regenstrief Institute investigator. “This is the first study to calculate cumulative anticholinergic burden and determine that as burden increases, so does healthcare utilization in the U.S. -- both outpatient and inpatient.”

Campbell and his colleagues found that daily use of a drug with mild anticholinergic properties for one year, increased a patient’s chances of being admitted to the hospital by 11 percent. Anticholinergic drugs used to treat heart conditions, such as hypertension, are classified into the mild group.

Taking a strong anticholinergic drugs – such as a sleeping pill – on a daily basis, increased the likelihood of inpatient admission by 33 percent. These findings are just the latest in a decade’s worth of patient safety studies of anticholinergic medications, conducted at the IU Center for Aging Research.

“As baby boomers age and the number of older adults increases, it is especially important to recognize the negative impact of anticholinergic medications on the aging brain and healthcare delivery cost,” said Dr. Malaz Boustani, Chief Innovation and Implementation Officer of IU Center for Health Innovation and Implementation Science. “There is a powerful association between these harmful medications and potentially avoidable cognitive impairment and increased visits to the doctor, the ER and the hospital.”

Campbell advices patients currently taking anticholinergic drugs to talk to their healthcare providers about alternative medications. “This new study provides stronger motivation to design and conduct de-prescribing studies to determine safe ways to take individuals off anticholinergic medications in the interests of preserving brain health and decreasing healthcare utilization rates and their potential costs,” said Campbell.

Keywords: Hospital, Healthcare, Medication


Share this with your colleagues!

New Self-Injectable Form of Lupus Drug Approved by the FDA

July 25, 2017 - Patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) will now have the option to self-inject their medication thanks to the FDA approval of GSK’s reformulated lupus drug, Benlysta (belimumab).

Featured In: Biotech News

Canadian Chicken Farmers to Further Reduce Use of Antibiotics

July 24, 2017 - The Chicken Farmers of Canada, a national group dedicated to supporting poultry farmers and helping them meet consumer demand for chicken, has announced their strategy for eliminating the use of certain antimicrobials in meat production.

Featured In: Food News

Neonatal MRI Medical Device Approved by the FDA

July 24, 2017 - Medical device maker Aspect Imaging has received US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for its Embrace Neonatal MRI System.

Featured In: Medical Device News


Manufacturing Control Strategies: What Pharmaceutical and Biotech Companies Need to Know


Outsourcing Pharmacovigilance: Pros and Cons and Lessons Learned

EDC and eSource: Combined for Better Data and Faster Insights

Using Model Reduction to Bridge the Quality Systems Pharmacology-Pharmacometrics Divide

How to Maximize Your Non-GLP Toxicology Studies: A Guide for Optimal Design and Methodology

Copyright © 2016-2017 Honeycomb Worldwide Inc.