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AGS: Anticholinergics Linked to Physical Decline

Use of multiple anticholingerics may lead to slower gait speed, increased risk of dependency

MONDAY, May 5 (HealthDay News) -- In older adults, use of multiple anticholinergic medications is associated with an accelerated decline in physical function, including a slower gait speed and an increased likelihood of requiring assistance to perform activities of daily living, according to study findings presented this week at the American Geriatrics Society's Annual Scientific Meeting in Washington, D.C.

Kaycee M. Sink, M.D., of the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C., and colleagues studied 3,070 subjects (average age 78), including 40 percent who took at least one anticholinergic drug. After adjusting for potential confounders, they found that each one-point increase in the Anticholinergic Burden Score was associated a 0.009 m/s slower gait speed and an increased risk of dependency for activities of daily living (odds ratio, 1.12) and instrumental activities of daily living (OR, 1.11). They also found that each one-point increase in the score was similar to that of a three-year age increase for activities of daily living.

In a related study published in the May issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Sink and colleagues found that the decline in physical function was 50 percent higher in nursing home residents who took dementia and anticholinergic medications compared to those who only took dementia medications.

"These results were true even in older adults who have normal memory and thinking abilities," Sink said in a statement about the study presented at the meeting. "For older adults taking a moderately anticholinergic medication, or two or more mildly anticholinergic medications, their function was similar to that of someone three to four years older."

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