Original Study| Volume 19, ISSUE 11, P942-947, November 2018

Anticholinergic Burden is Associated With Increased Mortality in Older Patients With Dependency Discharged From Hospital



      To determine whether anticholinergic burden may predict differently 1-year mortality in older patients discharged from acute care hospitals with or without dependency in basic activities of daily living (BADL).


      Prospective observational study.

      Setting and participants

      Our series consisted of 807 patients aged 65 years or older consecutively discharged from 7 acute care geriatric wards throughout Italy between June 2010 and May 2011.


      Overall anticholinergic burden was assessed by the anticholinergic cognitive burden (ACB) score. Dependency was rated by BADL, and dependency in at least 1 BADL was considered as a potential mediator in the analysis. The study outcome was all-cause mortality during 12-months of follow-up.


      Patients included in the study were aged 81.0 ± 7.4 years, and 438 (54.3%) were female. During the follow-up period, 177 out of 807 participants (21.9%) died. After adjusting for potential confounders, discharge ACB score = 2 or more was significantly associated with the outcome among patients with dependency in at least 1 BADL [hazard ratio (HR) 2.25 95% confidence (CI) 1.22‒4.14], but not among independent ones (HR 1.06 95% CI 0.50‒2.34). The association was confirmed among dependent patients after adjusting for the number of lost BADL at discharge (HR 2.20 95% CI 1.18‒4.04) or ACB score at 3-month follow-up (HR 2.18 95% CI 1.20‒3.98), as well as when considering ACB score as a continuous variable (HR 1.28 95% CI 1.11‒1.49). The interaction between ACB score at discharge and BADL dependency was highly significant (P < .001).


      ACB score at discharge may predict mortality among older patients discharged from an acute care hospital carrying at least 1 BADL dependency. Hospital physicians should be aware that prescribing anticholinergic medications in this population may have negative prognostic implications and they should try to reduce anticholinergic burden at discharge whenever possible.


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