Antiepileptic drugs may increase the risk of stroke among persons with Alzheimer’s disease, said a new study from the University of Eastern Finland.
The risk remains the same whether the drugs are old or new antiepileptic drugs, said the study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
The study, conducted at the University of Eastern Finland and funded by the Academy of Finland, was based on the nationwide register-based MEDALZ cohort that includes all community-dwelling persons with clinically verified diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease in Finland during 2005–2011 (70,718 people).
Data on antiepileptic drug use was compiled from the Finnish Prescription Register to assess the risk of stroke associated with antiepileptic drug use, and each antiepileptic drug user was matched to a non-user.
It was found that the risk of stroke was more during the first three months of antiepileptic drug use, and remains elevated after taking into account several chronic disorders, socio-economic position and use of concomitant medications.
According to another study from the same research group, persons with Alzheimer’s disease use antiepileptic drugs more often than persons without Alzheimer’s disease. The difference, which cannot be explained by epilepsy, is evident in antiepileptic drug use around the time when Alzheimer’s disease was diagnosed.
Up to 1% of population regularly requires chronic antiepileptic treatment to control epilepsy. Other indications for antiepileptic drug use include neuropathic pain and dementia-related behavioural symptoms in persons with Alzheimer’s disease.
The present findings show that persons with Alzheimer’s disease are particularly susceptible to adverse events, hence, the use of antiepileptic drugs for other indications than epilepsy should be carefully prescribed for this vulnerable population.