Alzheimer's May Increase Seizure Risk

TUESDAY, July 13 (HealthDay News) -- People with Alzheimer's disease appear to be at increased risk for seizures, researchers have found.

In the study, researchers analyzed data from almost 15,000 Alzheimer's disease patients in the United Kingdom, aged 50 and older, and compared the data with that from an age-matched control group of the same number of people without Alzheimer's disease. The Alzheimer's patients were followed for an average of 2.3 years while those in the control group were followed for an average of 3.4 years.

During the follow-up, the incidence rate of seizures among the Alzheimer's patients was 9.1 per 1,000 people per year, compared with 1.4 for those in the control group. That means the incidence rate of seizures was 6.4 times higher for Alzheimer's patients, the study authors explained in a news release from the Alzheimer's Association.

The researchers also found that the seizure incidence rate was highest among the youngest Alzheimer's patients and decreased with age. In the control group, the incidence rate of seizures increased slightly with age, they noted.

While the increased risk of seizures is cause for concern among all Alzheimer's patients, the substantially increased risk among younger patients means that they and their caregivers need to be especially aware of the problem, the study authors pointed out.

"The connection between Alzheimer's and seizures provides additional avenues for research into the basic biology of both diseases, and possibly interventions and therapies to respond to the overall impact of Alzheimer's disease," study author H. Michael Arrighi, of Janssen Alzheimer Immunotherapy Research & Development in the San Francisco Bay area, stated in the news release.

The study was scheduled to be presented Tuesday at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease, in Honolulu.

-- Robert Preidt

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SOURCE: Alzheimer's Association, news release, July 13, 2010