Methods: We compared data from participants aged 65+ years from the Cognitive Function and Ageing Studies (CFAS I and II), collected during 1990-1993 (N=7,635) and 2008-2011 (N=7,762). We estimated the prevalence of potent anticholinergic use (Anticholinergic Cognitive Burden [ACB] score=3) and average anticholinergic burden (sum of ACB scores), using inverse probability weights standardised to the 2011 UK population. These were stratified by age, sex, Mini-Mental State Examination score, and activities of daily living (ADL) or instrumental ADL (IADL) disability.
Results: Prevalence of potent anticholinergic use increased from 5.7% (95% Confidence Interval [CI] 5.2-6.3%) of the older population in 1990-93 to 9.9% (9.3-10.7%) in 2008-11, adjusted odds ratio of 1.90 (95%CI 1.67 – 2.16). People with clinically significant cognitive impairment (MMSE [Mini Mental State Examination] 21 or less) were the heaviest users of potent anticholinergic in CFAS II (16.5% [95%CI 12.0-22.3%]). Large increases in the prevalence of the use medication with ‘any’ anticholinergic activity were seen in older people with clinically significant cognitive impairment (53.3% in CFAS I to 71.5% in CFAS II).
Conclusions: Use of potent anticholinergic medications nearly doubled in England’s older population over 20 years with some of the greatest increases amongst those particularly vulnerable to anticholinergic side-effects.
- Anticholinergic burden
- Cognitive impairment