Association of skeletal muscle relaxers and antihistamines on mortality, hospitalizations, and emergency department visits in elderly patients: A nationwide retrospective cohort study

Carlos A. Alvarez, Eric M. Mortensen, Una E. Makris, Dan R. Berlowitz, Laurel A. Copeland, Chester B. Good, Megan E. Amuan, Mary Jo V Pugh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: High-risk medication exposure in the elderly is common and associated with increased mortality, hospitalizations, and emergency department (ED) visits. Skeletal muscle relaxants and antihistamines are high-risk medications commonly prescribed in elderly patients. The objective of this study was to determine the association between skeletal muscle relaxants or antihistamines and mortality, hospitalizations, and emergency department visits. Methods: This study used a new-user, retrospective cohort design using national Veteran Affairs (VA) data from 128 hospitals. Veterans ≥65 years of age on October 1, 2005 who received VA inpatient/outpatient care at least once in each of fiscal year (FY) 2005 and FY 2006 were included. Exposure to skeletal muscle relaxants and antihistamines was defined by the National Committee for Quality Assurance Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set measures for high-risk medications in the elderly. Primary outcomes identified within one year of exposure were death, ED visit, or hospitalization; ED visits or hospitalizations due to falls and fracture were also assessed. Propensity score matching (1 to 1 match) was used to balance covariates between exposed patients and non-exposed patients. Results: In this cohort of 1,807,404 patients 55,566 patients were included in the propensity-matched cohort for skeletal muscle relaxants and 60,058 patients were included in the propensity-matched cohort for anti-histamines. Mortality was lower in skeletal muscle relaxants-exposed patients (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 0.87, 95% CI 0.81-0.94), but risk of emergency care (AOR 2.25, 95% CI 2.16-2.33) and hospitalization (AOR 1.56, 95% CI 1.48-1.65) was higher for patients prescribed skeletal muscle relaxants. Similar findings were observed for emergency and hospital care for falls or fractures. Mortality (AOR 1.93, 95% CI 1.82-2.04), ED visits (AOR 2.35, 95% CI 2.27-2.43), and hospitalizations (AOR 2.21, 95% CI 2.11-2.32) were higher in the antihistamine-exposed group, with similar findings for falls and fractures outcomes. Conclusion: Skeletal muscle relaxants and antihistamines are associated with an increased risk of ED visits and hospitalizations in elderly patients. Antihistamines were also associated with an increased risk of death, further validating the classification of these drug classes as "high risk".

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2
JournalBMC Geriatrics
Volume15
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 27 2015

Keywords

  • Adverse drug events
  • Aged
  • Antihistamines
  • Emergency service
  • Healthcare effectiveness data and information set
  • Hospitalizations
  • Mortality
  • Skeletal muscle relaxant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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