According to a new study from the University of Eastern Finland and the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, DZNE, antiepileptic drugs are associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.


The clinical investigation, led by Heidi Taipale from the University of Eastern Finland, evaluated the data of nearly 100,000 individuals with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease (from Germany and Finland) to see if there was a link between continuous use of antiepileptics and these neurodegenerative diseases and compared it with controls.

It was found that the continuous use of antiepileptic drugs for longer than one year was associated with a 15% increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease in the Finnish data set and with a 30% increased risk of dementia in the German dataset.

Additionally, when the researchers looked at the different antiepileptic drugs they found that those known to impair cognitive function were associated with a 20% increased risk of Alzheimer’s and a 60% increased risk of dementia. Furthermore, the researchers revealed that increasing the dose of these drugs also increased the risk of dementia. This associative risk was not found with other antiepileptic drugs, however.

“More research should be conducted into the long-term cognitive effects of these drugs, especially among older people,” said Taipale.

Antiepileptic drugs are not solely used in cases of epilepsy, they are also administered to patients with neuropathic pain, bipolar disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. This research is the largest that has been performed on this topic so far and the first to investigate the association in terms of regularity of use, dose and comparing the risk between antiepileptic drugs with and without cognitive-impairing effects. The results were published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.



AEDs, especially those with known CAEs, may contribute to incident dementia and AD in older persons.

Source: epm