Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland and the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases have discovered that continuous use of antiepileptic drugs increases the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Antiepileptics are used to treat neuropathic pain, bipolar and generalised anxiety disorders.
When administered for more than a year, the drugs were found to have increased the dementia risk by 30% Alzheimer’s risk by 15% in German and Finnish datasets respectively.
The study revealed that the risk was more with antiepileptic drugs that lead to cognitive function impairment, as they increased dementia risk by 60% and Alzheimer’s by 20%.
It was further observed that higher doses of such drugs led to high risk of dementia, while other antiepileptics that do not result in cognitive impairment were not associated with the risk.
University of Eastern Finland senior researcher Heidi Taipale said: “More research should be conducted into the long-term cognitive effects of these drugs, especially among older people.”
The study involved 70,718 Finnish subjects with Alzheimer’s disease and 282,862 controls, and 20,325 German dementia patients and 81,300 controls.
Part of the nationwide register-based study, the Finnish dataset included patients diagnosed between 2005 and 2011, while the German dataset was from 2004 to 2011.
Regularity of use, dose and comparison of the risk between antiepileptic drugs with and without cognitive-impairing effects were examined during the study.