Study: Common Alzheimer’s disease drug doubles hospitalization risk

Sept. 16 (UPI) — Donepezil, a popular Alzheimer’s drug, is linked to a two-fold higher risk of hospital admission for a painful muscle condition than other inhibitors, Canadian Medical Association Journal study found.

Researchers on the study analyzed the 30-day risk of admission to hospital with rhabomyolysis, a painful condition of muscle breakdown, among patients using one of three popular cholinesterase inhibitors — donepezil, rivastigmine or galantamine — to manage Alzheimer’s and symptoms of other dementias.

Researchers found that donepezil was associated with a two-fold higher risk of hospitalization for the condition. The relative risk was small, but statistically significant, they report.

Most hospital admissions after donepezil, however, were not severe.

Rhabdomyolysis results from the death of muscle fibers and release of their contents into the bloodstream and can lead to serious complications such as renal kidney failure, where the kidneys cannot remove waste and concentrated urine.

With almost 10 million newly diagnosed cases each year worldwide, dementia is a growing problem.

“The findings of this population-based cohort study support regulatory agency warnings about the risk of donepezil-induced rhabdomyolysis,” Dr. Jamie Fleet, a postgraduate resident in physical medicine and rehabilitation at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, wrote in the study with coauthoers. “Reassuringly, the 30-day incidence of a hospital admission with rhabdomyolysis after initiating donepezil remains low.”

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