Antimuscarinic drug therapy for overactive bladder syndrome in the elderly - are the concerns justified?

The use of antimuscarinic drugs is common in the management of the overactive bladder (OAB). Concerns have been raised over their use in the elderly population in whom the use of these drugs is highly prevalent, consequent to the reported link between these drugs and cognitive impairment and dementia. Areas covered: Recent publications have heightened concerns regarding antimuscarinic drug use in the elderly. In this review, the author discusses the available evidence upon which conclusions have been based and has presented the need for cortical review and need for caution in interpreting the data. The available evidence is inconsistent, differences in pharmacokinetics have not been widely recognized in clinical trials, clinical estimation of antimuscarinic activity has not been standardized, and serum antimuscarinic activity has not been found to correlate with cognitive impairment. Furthermore, the significant heterogeneity within cognitive aging processes raises questions regarding the extent to which various factors, including medication, influences this process. Expert opinion: Whilst caution should indeed be exercised in the use of antimuscarinic medication in the elderly, advocacy of discontinuation of their use may deprive patients of the benefits of improved quality of life from treatment where currently alternative management remain limited or invasive.

Expert opinion on pharmacotherapy. 2019 Feb 06 [Epub ahead of print]

Jay Khastgir

a Swansea University Medical School , Abertawe Bro Morganwwg University Health Board , Swansea , Wales , UK.