Older adults who regularly use anti-epileptic drugs may be at an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease and dementia, a new study has warned. Anti-epileptic drugs are the main type of treatment for most people with epilepsy that aims to stop seizures from happening. Up to 70 per cent (7 in 10) of people could stop having seizures with the right medication.
Besides for epilepsy, anti-epileptic drugs are used in the treatment of neuropathic pain, bipolar disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.
The findings, from the University of Eastern Finland, showed that some anti-epileptic drugs are known to impair cognitive function and the risk of Alzheimer's and dementia was specifically linked with these drugs.
These drugs were associated with a 20 per cent increased risk of Alzheimer's disease and with a 60 per cent increased risk of dementia.
In addition, the higher the dose of a drug that impairs cognitive function, the higher the risk of dementia.
However, other anti-epileptic drugs, i.e. those which do not impair cognitive processing, were not associated with the risk, the researchers said.
"More research should be conducted into the long-term cognitive effects of these drugs, especially among older people," said Heidi Taipale, researcher from the varsity.
For the study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, the team included 20,325 persons diagnosed with dementia, and their 81,300 controls.