Guideline-Recommended Medications and Physical Function in Older Adults with Multiple Chronic Conditions

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Abstract

BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES:

The benefit or harm of a single medication recommended for one specific condition can be difficult to determine in individuals with multiple chronic conditions and polypharmacy. There is limited information on the associations between guideline-recommended medications and physical function in older adults with multiple chronic conditions. The objective of this study was to estimate the beneficial or harmful associations between guideline-recommended medications and decline in physical function in older adults with multiple chronic conditions.

DESIGN:

Prospective observational cohort.

SETTING:

National.

PARTICIPANTS:

Community-dwelling adults aged 65 and older from the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey study (N = 3,273). Participants with atrial fibrillation, coronary artery disease, depression, diabetes mellitus, or heart failure were included.

MEASUREMENTS:

Self-reported decline in physical function; guideline-recommended medications; polypharmacy (taking <7 vs ≥7 concomitant medications); chronic conditions; and sociodemographic, behavioral, and health risk factors.

RESULTS:

The risk of decline in function in the overall sample was highest in participants with heart failure (35.4%, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 26.3–44.5) and lowest for those with atrial fibrillation (20.6%, 95% CI = 14.9–26.2). In the overall sample, none of the six guideline-recommended medications was associated with decline in physical function across the five study conditions, although in the group with low polypharmacy exposure, there was lower risk of decline in those with heart failure taking renin angiotensin system blockers (hazard ratio (HR) = 0.40, 95% CI = 0.16–0.99) and greater risk of decline in physical function for participants with diabetes mellitus taking statins (HR = 2.27, 95% CI = 1.39–3.69).

CONCLUSIONS:

In older adults with multiple chronic conditions, guideline-recommended medications for atrial fibrillation, coronary artery disease, depression, diabetes mellitus, and heart failure were largely not associated with self-reported decline in physical function, although there were associations for some medications in those with less polypharmacy.

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