Polypharmacy may increase the risk for dementia

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  • Polypharmacy is associated with an increased risk for dementia.

Why this matters

  • Clinicians should be careful when prescribing drugs in older patients to avoid unnecessary polypharmacy and potentially inappropriate medications.

Key results

  • Average number of drugs prescribed to patients with dementia 2 y before diagnosis was 2.54 vs 1.75 for control patients.
  • Polypharmacy was more common in patients with dementia (18.8%) compared with in control patients (10.8%).
  • Patients with dementia were more likely to be prescribed a potentially inappropriate medication than control patients (OR, 1.5-2.0).

Study design

  • Nested case-control study of 5562 patients newly diagnosed with dementia and control patients followed for 12 y.
  • Funding: National Research Foundation of Korea, Korean government.


  • Data came from insurance claims, so the researchers did not have access to full medical records.