Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Antiepileptics ‘increase risk’ of pneumonia among those with Alzheimer’s

  • Comment

Patients with Alzheimer’s disease using anti-epileptic drugs have twice the risk of pneumonia compared to non-users, according to researchers.

The risk was highest at the beginning of use but remained on an elevated level even in long-term use, according to a study from the University of Eastern Finland.

“It is important to carefully assess the risks and benefits of drug use”

Heidi Taipale

The study results, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, suggested that phenytoin, carbamazepine, valproic acid and pregabalin were associated with an increased risk of pneumonia.

The researchers noted that relatively few – less than 10% – of the anti-epileptic users had been diagnosed with epilepsy.

Therefore, they said it was likely that many were using the drugs for other indications, such as neuropathic pain and behavioural symptoms of dementia.

Some anti-epileptic drugs have sedative effects which may explain the associated risk of pneumonia, suggested the study authors.

The study was based on the university’s nationwide register-based MEDALZ study.

It involved 5,769 patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease living in the community who initiated anti-epileptic drug use and compared them with matched non-users of these drugs.

The authors said theirs was the first study to specifically investigate antiepileptic use and the risk of pneumonia among persons with Alzheimer’s disease.

They highlighted that a previous study had assessed the risk among younger adults and did not find a risk increase.

Senior researcher Heidi Taipale said: “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,” she said.

“For this reason, it is important to carefully assess the risks and benefits of drug use, especially for other indications than epilepsy,” she added.

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.

Related Jobs