For health professionals

Key points

  • While medicines with anticholinergic effects are useful to treat many conditions, their broad range of actions on the central and peripheral nervous systems can result in unintended adverse effects.
  • Cumulative anticholinergic burden may be caused by multiple medicines not typically thought of as having anticholinergic effects.
  • Anticholinergic burden is associated with poor health outcomes, particularly for older people, including an increase in falls-related hospitalisation, the risk of dementia and mortality.
  • A shared understanding of the patient’s personal goals and preferences may improve health outcomes, facilitate patient-centred medication management reviews and drive comprehensive care planning.
  • Medication management reviews lead to healthier patients, improved compliance, empowerment and improved confidence to self-manage, and better use of medicines.
  • Consider a patient-centred multidisciplinary approach to assessing, managing and reviewing anticholinergic burden, and optimise non-pharmacological options where possible.

Important but not always front of mind: anticholinergic burden

NPS MedicineWise medical advisor Dr Caroline West talks to our other medical adviser Dr Kate Annear about the cumulative effects of anticholinergic medicines.

Podcast transcript

Getty Images-1072505620

Focus on anticholinergic burden

How much do you regard anticholinergic burden as an issue that needs your attention?

Identifying and managing medicines with anticholinergic effects can be challenging, as many are not thought of as having these effects.

GPs play a key role in the safe use of medicines with anticholinergic effects.

Read the full article
Getty Images-1188839255

Clinical resources and tools

Getty Images-498340586

Resources to use with your Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients

At NPS MedicineWise, we acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the traditional owners of the lands across Australia. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.

  • Resources (coming soon)
Getty Images-1296945064

Resources in community languages

NPS MedicineWise has developed resources in a range of languages.

  • Resources (coming soon)
Getty Images-1294292235

Research and references

5Questions_Choosing Wisely_Hero

Choosing Wisely Australia

Choosing Wisely Australia helps healthcare providers and consumers have important conversations about improving the quality of healthcare by reducing unnecessary and sometimes harmful tests, treatments, and procedures.

5 questions to ask your doctor or other healthcare provider is a resource that can help patients ensure they end up with the right amount of care.