Pneumonia cases in the elderly are strongly associated with use of anticholinergic medications, according to research in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Some anticholinergics are used for treating psychiatric conditions, including benzodiazepines and tricyclic antidepressants.
“A team from the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle examined health and pharmacy data from 1,039 cases of pneumonia that occurred among their older, immune, competent patients (65-94) as well as 2,000 healthy controls of the same age and gender composition,” reported Psychiatric News. “They found that 59% of the pneumonia cases had one or more prescription fills of an anticholinergic 90 days or less before the diagnosis, compared with 35% of the healthy group. The pneumonia group also showed higher chronic anticholinergic use, with 53% of the patients having filled three or more prescriptions over the past year, compared with 36% of the controls.”
The researchers concluded that, “In older adults, anticholinergic medication use is associated with pneumonia risk, adding to substantial evidence suggesting that these medications are high risk.”
Paul, Kathleen J., Rod L. Walker, and Sascha Dublin. “Anticholinergic Medications and Risk of Community-Acquired Pneumonia in Elderly Adults: A Population-Based Case–Control Study.” Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, February 1, 2015, n/a – n/a. doi:10.1111/jgs.13327. (Abstract)
Study Finds That Anticholingeric Medications Increase Risk of Pneumonia (Psychiatric News Alert, March 2, 2015)