People with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) seem especially prone to seizures. Now, a Finnish study reports that antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) may increase the risk of stroke in people with AD.

The study enrolled 5,617 AD patients taking AEDs and the same number of matched control AD patients. Compared with controls, AD patients on AEDs were 37 per cent more likely to experience a stroke.

AED use was associated with a 34 and 44 per cent increase in the risk of ischaemic and haemorrhagic strokes. Stroke risk more than doubled during the first 90 days (adjusted hazard ratio 2.36) of AED use. The risk associated with older drugs (e.g. carbamazepine, phenobarbital, phenytoin and primidone) did not differ to that associated with newer AEDs.

“The pathological changes in Alzheimer’s disease may increase susceptibility to the adverse events of AEDs,” the authors concluded. “Careful clinical consideration is needed before prescribing them to a person with Alzheimer’s.”

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