09:21am Thursday 23 January 2020

Persons with Alzheimer’s disease more likely to suffer from heart disease – yet offered less treatment options than others

The study involved a total of 28,093 persons; that is every community-dwelling person with a diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease living in Finland on 31 December 2005. According to the data obtained from the national hospital discharge register, persons with Alzheimer’s disease were slightly more likely to suffer from ischaemic heart diseases than their matched control group with no existing AD diagnosis. Despite this, persons with Alzheimer’s disease underwent significantly fewer procedures restoring cardiac circulation, such as coronary angioplasty and coronary artery bypass surgery, than the control group.

The results were not explained by medical treatment of cardiovascular diseases or by other related diseases such as stroke, diabetes, asthma, or cancer.  Severely reduced cognitive function is a relative contraindication for coronary artery bypass surgery, but not for coronary angioplasty.  However, the register-based data makes it difficult to assess whether the low number of coronary angioplasties performed on persons with Alzheimer’s disease is indicative of their insufficient access to treatment.

The study constituted part of the register-based MEDALZ-2005 project, which focuses on the health of persons with Alzheimer’s disease, their use of drugs and health services, and drug safety.  The study was published in International Journal of Cardiology.

For further information, please contact: Professor Sirpa Hartikainen, tel. +358 40 3553784, sirpa.hartikainen (at) uef.fi

Anna-Maija Tolppanen, Raimo Kettunen, Riitta Ahonen, Hilkka Soininen, Sirpa Hartikainen: Incident ischaemic heart disease in persons with Alzheimer’s disease in a Finnish nationwide exposure-matched cohort. International Journal of Cardiology, In Press, Accepted Manuscript, Available online 25 October 2013

University of Eastern Finland

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