Medicines and cognition

medicines that block acetylcholine may increase the risks of cognitive impairment and death, according to the findings of a two-year study of 13,000 people aged over 65 in the UK. 

About half of participants were using medicines with potential anticholinergic properties.

Researchers ranked the drugs according to the strength of anticholinergic activity: 0 no effect, 1 mild, 2 moderate and 3 severe. They found 20% of those taking drugs with a total rating of 4 or more had died at the end of the two-year study period, compared with 7% of those not taking anticholinergic drugs. 

Those taking drugs with a combined ranking of 5 or more scored 4% lower in a cognitive function test than those taking no anticholinergic medications.

J Am Geriatr Soc, online 24 June