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HERDIN Record #: PCHRDPC020536 Submitted: 16 May 2007 Modified: 23 July 2019

The association of polypharmacy with sleep and memory problems among older patients.

Shelley  de la Vega

BACKGROUND: Polypharmacy has been described to cause adverse drug-interactions in the elderly. Memory loss from drugs has been described as among the most common and treatable causes of reversible senile dementia. Research in drug effects and adverse drug reactions in the elderly are scant. Many studies rarely contain clinical endpoints that are meaningful to older patients, such as effects on memory, functional performance and quality of life.

OBJECTIVES: The study aims to describe, in a case-control study, the association between number of medications and the presence of memory and sleep problems among elderly patients in a General Internal Medicine out-patient clinic.

METHODOLOGY: Medical records of patients in a General Medicine Outpatient Clinic, from January 1997 to March 2000 were reviewed. Only those age 60 and above and with complete medical records were included in this retrospective chart review.

RESULTS: A total of eighty patients age 60 and above, with complete medical charts were identified. There were 76 percent females and 24 percent males. Hypertension (42 percent), Diabetes (16 percent) and Heart Disease (16 percent), were the most common medical diagnoses Analysis of data shows an association between number of medications and reported sleep disorder (OR=1.2). A graphical "trend" towards more sleep problems was also demonstrated, the higher the number of medications. Results for memory problems demonstrate a stronger correlation between number of medications and reported memory problems (OR=2.27). There is a trend towards increased incidence of memory problems as more medications were being taken, beginning at 4 and more medications. As expected however, Alzheimer's disease was the major medical diagnosis that was highly correlated with reports of both sleep and memory problems.

CONCLUSION: The clinical question of whether polypharmacy of 4 or more medications cause sleep and memory problems cannot be adequately answered by this study. Potential biases inherent in any case-control study exist. A prospective study is recommended.

Publication Type
Publication Sub Type
Journal Article, Original
Philippine Journal of Internal Medicine
Publication Date
July-August 2001
LocationLocation CodeAvailable FormatAvailability
Philippine Council for Health Research and Development Library Box No.48 Fulltext pdf (Request Document)

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