Published: 05-06-2013 00:00 | Updated: 29-10-2014 16:05

Alzheimer's drug reduces risk of heart attack

The risk of suffering a myocardial infarction is lower for people with Alzheimer's disease on so-called cholinesterase inhibitors, according to a large observation study from Umeå University and Karolinska Institutet published in The European Heart Journal. Survival is also increasing amongst patients who have received this kind of drug, compared with those who have not been treated.

Data from over 7,000 Alzheimer's patients from the National Swedish Dementia Registry (SveDem) were analysed up to five years after diagnosis. The results show that the risk of death during the period was 36 percent lower for patients being treated with cholinesterase inhibitors than it was for those not receiving this treatment. Moreover, the chances of suffering myocardial infarction were reduced by 38 percent. In absolute figures, this means 180 fewer heart attacks and 1,125 fewer deaths a year for every 100,000 Alzheimer's patients.

The likelihood of myocardial infarction and premature death was also dose-dependent, with the risk being inversely proportional to the dose.

"Cholinesterase inhibitors are a type of blocker used to treat Alzheimer's-related memory problems," says Maria Eriksdotter, Professor of geriatrics at Karolinska Institutet, Consultant at Karolinska University Hospital and chair of SveDem. "Previous research has shown that these drugs can reduce the heart rate and that they might also have anti-inflammatory properties, but for them to have such positive effects on heart disease is a new and exciting finding."

The study was financed with grants from several financiers, including the Swedish Research Council, Swedish Brain Power and the Swedish Society of Medicine.


The use of cholinesterase inhibitors and the risk of myocardial infarction and death: a nationwide cohort study in subjects with Alzheimer's disease.
Nordström P, Religa D, Wimo A, Winblad B, Eriksdotter M
Eur. Heart J. 2013 Sep;34(33):2585-91