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Study,Dec/21:Impact of high-risk meds on mortality risk --seniors w/polypharmacy


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The full title of this UK study is "The impact of high-risk medications on mortality risk among older adults with polypharmacy: evidence from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing".






Background: Polypharmacy is common among older people and is associated with an increased mortality risk. However, little is known about whether the mortality risk is related to specific medications among older adults with polypharmacy. This study therefore aimed to investigate associations between high-risk medications and all-cause and cause-specific mortality among older adults with polypharmacy.


Methods: This study included 1356 older adults with polypharmacy (5+ long-term medications a day for conditions or symptoms) from Wave 6 (2012/2013) of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. First, using the agglomerative hierarchical clustering method, participants were grouped according to the use of 14 high-risk medication categories. Next, the relationship between the high-risk medication patterns and all-cause and cause-specific mortality (followed up to April 2018) was examined. All-cause mortality was assessed by Cox proportional hazards model and competing-risk regression was employed for cause-specific mortality.


Results: Five high-risk medication patterns-a renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS) inhibitors cluster, a mental health drugs cluster, a central nervous system (CNS) drugs cluster, a RAAS inhibitors and antithrombotics cluster, and an antithrombotics cluster-were identified. The mental health drugs cluster showed increased risks of all-cause (HR = 1.55, 95%CI = 1.05, 2.28) and cardiovascular disease (CVD) (SHR = 2.11, 95%CI = 1.10, 4.05) mortality compared with the CNS drug cluster over 6 years, while others showed no differences in mortality. Among these patterns, the mental health drugs cluster showed the highest prevalence of antidepressants (64.1%), benzodiazepines (10.4%), antipsychotics (2.4%), antimanic agents (0.7%), opioids (33.2%), and muscle relaxants (21.5%). The findings suggested that older adults with polypharmacy who took mental health drugs (primarily antidepressants), opioids, and muscle relaxants were at higher risk of all-cause and CVD mortality, compared with those who did not take these types of medications.


Conclusions: This study supports the inclusion of opioids in the current guidance on structured medication reviews, but it also suggests that older adults with polypharmacy who take psychotropic medications and muscle relaxants are prone to adverse outcomes and therefore may need more attention. The reinforcement of structured medication reviews would contribute to early intervention in medication use which may consequently reduce medication-related problems and bring clinical benefits to older adults with polypharmacy.


Full Study:



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