- Currently there is no cure for Alzheimer's disease, progression can be slowed down by use of anti-dementia drugs.
- Persons with Alzheimer's disease have an elevated risk of pneumonia; common cause of death and hospitalization in this population
- Anti-dementia drug memantine linked to increased pneumonia risk
Among people who use anti-dementia drugs, people using memantine have an increased risk of pneumonia.
Alzheimer's disease patients have a higher risk of pneumonia but the risks associated with anti-dementia drugs remained unknown. The research team compared pneumonia risk associated with different anti-dementia drugs and drug forms.
‘Users of anti-dementia drugs memantine and rivastigmine (patch form) had a higher risk of pneumonia.’
The study is based on data from a nationwide register-based study (MEDALZ) conducted at the University of Eastern Finland. The study population consisted of 65,481 persons diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease during 2005-2011 in Finland.
Results of the Study
- Donepezil or galantamine had the lowest risk of pneumonia
- Memantine or rivastigmine in patch form had a 1.6 and 1.15 times higher risk of pneumonia
- Rivastigmine in capsule form had no elevated risk of pneumonia.
Increased risk of pneumonia among persons using memantine or rivastigmine patches may be explained by the fact that these drugs are often in people with advanced states of dementia.
Anti-dementia Drugs Used to Slow Down Alzheimer's Disease Progression
- Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors such as donepezil, galantamine, and rivastigmine for early to moderate stages
- Memantine for moderate to severe stages
Pneumonia is a serious respiratory infection common in
- Elderly people
- Those with weakened immune system
- Or those with underlying health conditions such as Alzheimer's or dementia
Aspiration pneumonia is more common in people with Alzheimer's disease; particularly in patients who have dysphagia (difficulties with swallowing).
Aspiration pneumonia is caused when food or liquid is breathed in and goes down the windpipe rather than the food pipe. It is one of the most common causes of death amongst people with Alzheimer's disease. Other Complications of Alzheimer's Disease
- Unreported pain, illness or medicine side effects
- Malnutrition or dehydration
The findings published in the Annals of Medicine. In addition to researchers from the University of Eastern Finland, also researchers from the University of Turku and Karolinska Institutet participated in the study.