(Natural News) People with Alzheimer’s disease who use antiepileptic drugs are more likely to stay in hospitals for longer, according to a study published in the Journal of American Medical Directors Association. Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland found that those who took antiepileptic drugs added eight more hospital days to their stay.
In the study, the researchers looked at the association between the use of antiepileptic drugs, such as valproic acid, pregabalin, and gabapentin, and hospital days during a two-year follow-up. They used data from the Finnish Medication Use and Alzheimer’s Disease (MEDALZ) cohort, which included more than 70,000 community-dwelling persons with Alzheimer’s disease in Finland from 2005 to 2011. Data on antiepileptic drug use was obtained from the Finnish Prescription Register.
Older people who have Alzheimer’s disease use antiepileptic drugs as doctors often prescribe these to help manage symptoms and other conditions, such as bipolar and mood disorders, migraines, and even symptoms of dementia. Research published in the journal Neuron has suggested that an antiepileptic drug called levetiracetam might improve the cognitive function of people with mild cognitive impairment – a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease – and delay the progression of Alzheimer’s by reducing activity in the hippocampus and improving their memory. However, antiepileptic drugs are harmful and have been linked to increased risks of diseases, including stroke.
Antiepileptic drugs increase the risk of stroke in people with Alzheimer’s disease
Antiepileptic drug use among people with Alzheimer’s disease also increases their likelihood of having a stroke. An earlier study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association has found that the people with Alzheimer’s disease who used these drugs were more likely to experience a stroke compared to non-users.
For the study, researchers, who were also from the University of Eastern Finland, looked at the link between stroke risk and antiepileptic drug use in this population. Earlier research has shown that antiepileptic drug use has been linked to a higher risk of vascular events in the general population. The researchers also gathered data from the MEDALZ cohort.
Alzheimer’s disease patients who took antiepileptic drugs had a 37 percent increased risk of having a stroke compared to those who do not use these drugs. The risk was at its peak during the first three months of drug use. When the researchers classified the data by stroke type, antiepileptic drug use was linked to ischemic stroke, and there was a trend toward association with hemorrhagic stroke. Additionally, the results showed that the risk of stroke was similar between older and newer antiepileptic drugs, suggesting that all antiepileptic drugs were associated with increased stroke risk.
“Our results highlight caution in [antiepileptic drug] use in this vulnerable population, and such possible complication as a stroke should be kept in mind while prescribing [antiepileptic drugs],” the researchers wrote.
Antiepileptic drugs linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
It is quite alarming and questionable how Alzheimer’s patients are prescribed to take antiepileptic drugs when these drugs play a role in the development of the disease. A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society has found that using antiepileptic drugs for over a year can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland and the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) looked at the effects of the continuous use of anti-epileptic drugs on the risk of dementia of any type and Alzheimer’s disease using datasets from Finland and Germany. They found that over a year of antiepileptic drug use was associated with a 15 percent increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and a 30 percent increased risk of dementia.
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