Drug cessation in complex older adults: time for action

T.J.M. van der Cammen, C Rajkumar, G Onder, Shanty Sterke, M Petrovic

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Abstract

Background: general opinion is growing that drug cessation in complex older patients is warranted in certain situations. From a clinical viewpoint, drug cessation seems most warranted in four situations, i.e., falls, delirium, cognitive impairment and end-of-life situations. To date, little information about the effects of drug cessation in these four situations is available. Objectives: to identify the effects and effectiveness of drug cessation on falls, delirium and cognitive impairment. For end-of-life situations, we reviewed cessation of inappropriate drug use. Methods: electronic databases were searched using MeSH terms and relevant keywords. Studies published in English were included if they evaluated the effects of drug cessation in older persons, aged >= 65 years, with falls, delirium or cognitive impairment; or cessation of inappropriate drug use in end-of-life situations. Results: we selected seven articles for falls, none for delirium, two for cognition and two for end-of-life situations. Withdrawal of psychotropics reduced fall rate; a prescribing modification programme for primary care physicians reduced fall risk. Withdrawal of psychotropics and a systematic reduction of polypharmacy resulted in an improvement of cognition. Very little rigorous research has been conducted on reducing inappropriate medications in patients approaching end of life. Conclusion: little research has focussed on drug cessation. Available studies showed a beneficial impact of cessation of psychotropic drugs on falls and cognitive status. More research in this field is needed. The issue of systematic drug withdrawal in end-of-life cases is controversial, but is increasingly relevant in the face of rising numbers of older people of this clinical status.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)20-25
Number of pages6
JournalAge and Ageing
Volume43
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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