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Antiepileptics increase the risk of pneumonia in people with Alzheimer’s disease

Published on 21/03/19 at 10:22am
Image Credit: GerryShaw

Antiepileptic drugs increase the risk of pneumonia in people living with Alzheimer’s disease, according to research from the University of Eastern Finland.

People with Alzheimer’s who used antiepileptics have twice the risk of developing pneumonia compared to those not using the drugs, the study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease says.

Antiepileptic drugs phenytoin, carbamazepine, valproic acid and pregabalin were all associated with an increased risk of pneumonia. The sedative effects of antiepileptic drugs may explain the increased risk of pneumonia. Nevertheless, fewer than one in ten of those living with Alzheimer’s have also been diagnosed with epilepsy.

“Further research into whether older persons are more sensitive to the effects of antiepileptic drugs is needed. Persons with Alzheimer’s disease have a higher risk of pneumonia and pneumonia-related mortality than persons without the disease. For this reason, it is important to carefully assess the risks and benefits of drug use, especially for other indications than epilepsy,” Senior Researcher Heidi Taipale from the University of Eastern Finland says.

The study was based on the nationwide register-based MEDALZ study conducted at the University of Eastern Finland. For this study, 5,769 community-dwelling persons diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease who initiated antiepileptic drug use in Finland were included and compared with matched non-users of these drugs.

Louis Goss

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