Heart hope with Alzheimer’s drugs
Some Alzheimer’s drugs could reduce the risk of heart attacks and death, according to research.
Scientists in Sweden studied over 7,000 people with the disease, looking at cholinesterase inhibitors (ChEIs) such as donepezil, rivastigmine and galantamine.
They found the ChEIs – for mild to moderate Alzheimer’s – had a beneficial effect on the vagus nerve, which controls the heart rate, and some experimental studies suggested ChEIs could also have anti-inflammatory properties.
Professor Peter Nordstrom and a team of scientists from Umea University followed 7,073 people with disease who were on the Swedish Dementia Registry from May 2007 to December 2010.
They found that those who were on ChEIs had a 36% reduced risk of death from any cause, a 38% reduced risk of a myocardial infarction (heart attack) and a 26% reduced risk of death from cardiovascular causes such as stroke, compared with people not taking ChEIs. Their research is published in the European Heart Journal.
Prof Nordstrom said: “If you translate these reductions in risk into absolute figures, it means that for every 100,000 people with Alzheimer’s disease, there would be 180 fewer heart attacks – 295 as opposed to 475 – and 1,125 fewer deaths from all causes – 2,000 versus 3,125 – every year among those taking ChEIs compared to those not using them.”
According to the research, patients taking the highest recommended doses of ChEIs had the lowest risk of heart attack or death – 65% and 46% lower respectively compared with those who had never used ChEIs.
The researchers also checked whether the reduction in risk applied only to the use of ChEIs or was seen in other drug treatments for dementia, such as Memantine, but they found it made no difference to the risk of heart attack or death from any cause.
Prof Nordstrom said: “As far as we know, this is the first time that the use of ChEIs has been linked to a reduced risk of heart attacks and deaths from cardiovascular disease in general or from any cause. As this is an observational study, we cannot say that ChEI use is causing the reduction in risk, only that it is associated with a reduction.”
Maureen Talbot, the senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: “The link between this particular Alzheimer’s medication and heart health is interesting, but by no means definitive.
“We don’t know if the medication itself caused the drop in heart attack risk or if another factor was involved. This is the first study to link an Alzheimer’s medication to reduced risk of heart attacks so we need to see much more research before we can draw any conclusions.
“In the meantime, there’s lots you can do to protect your heart without a prescription. Quitting smoking, eating a balanced diet and getting enough exercise are all great ways to keep your heart healthy. If you’re over 40 you can ask your GP for a free health check.”
The Press Association
Latest posts by The Press Association (see all)
- Celebrate International Gin & Tonic Day! - October 19, 2018
- On World Menopause Day: 5 myths you really need to stop believing - October 18, 2018
- World’s most attractive cities announced: These are the most stunning spots in the top 7 - October 18, 2018
- Prue Leith: ‘I’m 78 – I can do what I like now’ - October 17, 2018
- 5 reasons why baking is good for your mental health - October 17, 2018
Leave a Comment!
Community Terms & Conditions
These content standards apply to any and all material which you contribute to our site (contributions), and to any interactive services associated with it.
You must comply with the spirit of the following standards as well as the letter. The standards apply to each part of any contribution as well as to its whole.
be accurate (where they state facts); be genuinely held (where they state opinions); and comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted.
Contributions must not:
contain any material which is defamatory of any person; or contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory; or promote sexually explicit material; or promote violence; promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age; or infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person; or be likely to deceive any person; or be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence; or promote any illegal activity; or be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety; or be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person; or be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person; or give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case; or advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.
Nurturing a safe environment
Our Silversurfers community is designed to foster friendships, based on trust, honesty, integrity and loyalty and is underpinned by these values.
We don't tolerate swearing, and reserve the right to remove any posts which we feel may offend others... let's keep it friendly!