Polypharmacy Linked to Poorer Cognitive, Physical Capability

Stronger negative associations for participants with polypharmacy at age 60 to 64 years and at 69 years
Stronger negative associations for participants with polypharmacy at age 60 to 64 years and at 69 years

HealthDay News — Polypharmacy is associated with poorer cognitive and physical capability even after adjustment for disease burden, according to a study published online March 24 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Mark James Rawle, MBChB, from University College London, and colleagues conducted a prospective birth cohort study to examine longitudinal correlations between polypharmacy and cognitive and physical capability. An eligible sample of 2,122 men and women with medication data at age 69 years participated. 

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The researchers found that 18.2% of the participants had polypharmacy (5 to 8 prescribed medications) and 4.7 percent had excessive polypharmacy (9 or more medications) at age 69 years. In models adjusted for sex, education, and disease burden, both polypharmacy and excessive polypharmacy were correlated with poorer cognitive and physical capability, with stronger associations seen for excessive polypharmacy. Stronger negative associations with cognitive and physical capability were seen for participants with polypharmacy at both age 60 to 64 and at age 69 years.

"Future research aiming to improve cognitive and physical capability should consider interventions to reduce the duration and level of polypharmacy at younger ages, in addition to optimizing disease control with appropriate medications," the authors write.

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