Having Alzheimer's disease may increase the risk of getting other potentially disabling health conditions, including seizures and anemia, according to new research presented today at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease 2010 (AAICAD 2010) in Honolulu, HI.
"The increased risk of seizures among patients with Alzheimer's disease was seen in all age groups, but there was a substantial increase among the youngest patients. It is especially important for these patients and their caregivers to be aware of this risk," Nicole Baker said.
"Alzheimer's disease is a global health crisis with devastating effects on individuals, families, and national healthcare systems," said William Thies, PhD, Chief Medical and Scientific Officer at the Alzheimer's Association. "If, in fact, Alzheimer's also increases risk of other disabling conditions, then its impact may be more devastating than we've envisioned as the global population ages and as more countries become westernized in their habits and lifestyles."
According to the 2009 World Alzheimer Report from Alzheimer's Disease International, a London-based nonprofit, international federation of 71 national Alzheimer organizations including the Alzheimer's Association, the number of people with Alzheimer's or another dementia, currently 35 million, is expected to nearly double every 20 years, to 65.7 million in 2030 and 115.4 million in 2050.
Worldwide, the economic cost of dementia has been estimated as $315 billion annually. (Wimo, et al. "An Estimate of the Total Worldwide Societal Costs of Dementia in 2005." Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association. Vol. 3, Issue 2, April 2007.)
Alzheimer's is Associated with Increased Incidence of Seizures
Some small studies have shown Alzheimer's to be a risk factor for seizures. H. Michael Arrighi, PhD, of Janssen Alzheimer Immunotherapy Research & Development; Nicole Baker, MPH, Pfizer; and colleagues conducted an observational study to estimate the incidence rate of seizures among a large cohort of people with Alzheimer's. The researchers used anonymized electronic medical records from nearly 400 primary medical practices in the United Kingdom. The study population included 14,838 people with Alzheimer's aged 50 years or older and a comparison cohort of 14,838 randomly-selected, age- and sex-matched patients without Alzheimer's. People with Alzheimer's were followed for an average of 2.3 years; non-Alzheimer's patients were followed for an average of 3.4 years.
Over that time period, the researchers found that the rate of seizures, per 1,000 people per year, was 9.1 among patients with Alzheimer's disease compared with 1.4 for those without Alzheimer's – an incidence rate that was 6.4 times higher. In addition, they found that the incidence rate of seizures was highest among the youngest Alzheimer's patients, and that it decreased with age. Incidence among non-Alzheimer's patients increased slightly with age.
"The increased risk of seizures among patients with Alzheimer's disease was seen in all age groups, but there was a substantial increase among the youngest patients. It is especially important for these patients and their caregivers to be aware of this risk," Baker said.
"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" Arrighi said.
--Nicole L. Baker, H. Michael Arrighi, et al. Alzheimer's disease is associated with increased incidence of seizures among patients in the United Kingdom, 1988-2009. (Funded by: Janssen Alzheimer Immunotherapy, Research & Development, LLC; Pfizer)
The Alzheimer's Association International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease (AAICAD) is the world's largest conference of it's kind, bringing together researchers from around the world to report and discuss groundbreaking research and information on the cause, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of Alzheimer's disease and related disorders. As a part of the Alzheimer's Association's research program, AAICAD serves as a catalyst for generating new knowledge about dementia and fostering a vital, collegial research community.
About the Alzheimer's Association
The Alzheimer's Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research, to provide and enhance care and support for all affected, and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's.
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Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. Bob has written more than 2,011 articles with more than 200,000 links on the Internet. Bob resides in Delray Beach, FL.
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Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room