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BACKGROUND: Polypharmacy is inevitable and appropriate for many conditions, but in some cases, it can be problematic resulting in an increased risk of harm and reduced quality of life. There has been an increasing interest to reduce cardioprotective medications in older adults to potentially reduce the risk of harm due to treatment; however, there is no evidence on safety and efficacy to support this practice currently. This paper describes a protocol for a systematic review on the safety and efficacy of reducing cardioprotective medication in older populations. METHODS: MEDLINE (PubMed), Embase (Ovid), and CENTRAL (Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials) will be searched from their inception onwards for relevant studies. Randomised controlled trials and non-randomised studies on interventions (prospective, retrospective cohort, case-control) conducted in older adults (75 years or older) examining reduction of cardioprotective medications will be included. The primary outcome of this study will be all-cause hospitalisation. Secondary outcome variables of interest are all-cause hospitalisation, mortality, quality of life, serious adverse events, major adverse cardiovascular events, falls, fractures, cognitive functioning, bleeding events, renal functioning, medication burden, drug reinstatement, time-in-hospital, and frailty status. Two reviewers will independently screen all citations, full-text articles, and extract data. Confidence in cumulative evidence will be assessed using the GRADE approach; the risk of bias will be assessed by the RoB-II tool for randomised controlled studies and ROBINS-I for non-randomised studies. Where sufficient data are available, we will conduct a random effects meta-analysis by combining the outcomes of the included studies. Sub-group analysis and meta-regression are planned to assess the potential harms and risks of different drug classes and the impacts in different patient populations (e.g. sex, cognitive status, renal status, and age). DISCUSSION: The study will be a comprehensive review on all published articles identified using our search strategy on the safety and efficacy of cardioprotective medication reduction in the older population. The findings will be crucial to inform clinicians on potential health outcomes of reducing cardiovascular medication in the elderly. SYSTEMATIC REVIEW REGISTRATION: PROSPERO CRD42020208223.

Original publication




Journal article


Syst Rev

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Adverse events, Aged, Cardiovascular therapy, Deprescribing, Inappropriate prescribing, Medication reduction, Multimorbidity, Problematic polypharmacy, Quality of life