Some antiepileptic drugs increase risk of dementia 

Antiepileptic drugs increase risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia – Science Daily – April 2018 – University of Eastern Finland

The use of [some] antiepileptic drugs is associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, according to a new study from the University of Eastern Finland and the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, DZNE.

Continuous use of antiepileptic drugs for a period exceeding one year was associated with a 15 percent increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease in the Finnish dataset, and with a 30 percent increased risk of dementia in the German dataset.

This is the class of drugs we are being coerced to take instead of opioids despite the fact that opioids have far fewer side effects.  

The newer antiepileptics, like Neurontin (gabapentin ) and Lyrica are newer drugs so the long-term damage of lifetime use has not been assessed.

And because the medical community doesn’t want to find adverse effects from these drugs, researchers are not being funded to study them, (Just like they only look for the negative effects of opioids without ever considering the positive effect they have on relieving pain: Opioids Blamed for Side-Effects of Chronic Pain)

Some antiepileptic drugs are known to impair cognitive function, which refers to all different aspects of information processing.

Many patients who take even the newer drugs feel that their thinking is dulled as well as their pain, but those side effects haven’t been verified.

When the researchers compared different antiepileptic drugs, they found that the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia was specifically associated with drugs that impair cognitive function.

These drugs were associated with a 20 percent increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and with a 60 percent increased risk of dementia.

These percentages of increased risk for the subclass of antiepileptics that “impair cognitive function” are even larger than the 15 and 30 percent for all the antiepileptic drugs.

The researchers also found that the higher the dose of a drug that impairs cognitive function, the higher the risk of dementia.

However, other antiepileptic drugs, i.e. those which do not impair cognitive processing, were not associated with the risk.

Besides for epilepsy, antiepileptic drugs are used in the treatment of neuropathic pain, bipolar disorder and generalised anxiety disorder.

This new study is the largest research on the 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.

I don’t have access to the full study, and the abstract carefully avoids naming the specific drugs studied. I find this unusual, so I’ll have to look into it later…  stay tuned.

 

2 thoughts on “Some antiepileptic drugs increase risk of dementia 

  1. Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA

    Interesting and validating. When I was on multiple drugs for bipolar and pain, including gabapentin and lamotrigine together, I felt very stupid, so I took an IQ test and found I had lost 10 points since my previous one ten years prior. And even that one ten years prior had been taken under a pantload of psych drugs, and IT showed a 10 point decrease over my high school numbers. So I credit psych drugs and antiepileptics with removing 20 points from my IQ over the years. And believe me, I feel it. Now, I’ve had conversations with my very intelligent shrink about this, and he cautions that bipolar itself can cause cognitive deficits (and I’m sure the constant Chinese Water Torture that is chronic pain can, too). I don’t doubt it’s a combination, but the stupifying effects of gabapentin, tegretol, etc. can’t be denied, and I’m glad to see this study. Thank you for your work!

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  2. Pingback: Adverse cognitive effects of antiepileptics | EDS and Chronic Pain News & Info

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