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CMAJ. 1999 Sep 7;161(5):501-6.

Calcium-channel blockers and cognitive function in elderly people: results from the Canadian Study of Health and Aging.

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Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary, Alta.

Erratum in

  • CMAJ 1999 Nov 30;161(11):1396.



Concern has been raised about the potential for adverse cognitive effects associated with the use of calcium-channel blockers (CCBs) in older people. This study was undertaken to examine prospectively the association between the use of these and other antihypertensive drugs and cognitive function.


The authors examined data from the Canadian Study of Health and Aging (CSHA), a population-based, prospective 5-year investigation of the epidemiology of dementia and other health problems in Canadians 65 years of age and older. The risk of cognitive decline, as indicated by a decline in performance on the Modified Mini-Mental State (3MS) examination over the 5-year period, was assessed in relation to the use of antihypertensive and diuretic drugs by 205 subjects with a history of hypertension and no evidence of dementia at baseline.


The proportion of subjects whose cognitive performance declined over the study period was significantly higher in the group using CCBs than in the group using other antihypertensive agents (75% v. 59%). The adjusted odds ratio (OR) for a significant decline in cognitive performance (defined as a decrease in 3MS score of 10 points or more) was 2.28 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.12-4.66) for subjects using CCBs. The adjusted ORs (and 95% CIs) for cognitive decline in subjects using selected antihypertensive agents or diuretics relative to those exposed to beta-blockers were as follows: angiotensin-converting-enzyme inhibitor, OR 1.36 (95% CI 0.41-4.55); diuretic or other antihypertensive drug, OR 1.45 (95% CI 0.51-4.14); dihydropyridine CCB (nifedipine), OR 1.94 (95% CI 0.52-7.27) and non-dihydropyridine CCB (diltiazem or verapamil), OR 3.72 (95% CI 1.22-11.36).


Older people taking CCBs were significantly more likely than those using other agents to experience cognitive decline. These findings are consistent with the results of previous cross-sectional research and emphasize the need for further trials to examine the associations between CCB use, blood pressure and cognitive impairment in elderly patients.

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