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Cardiovascular problems: Common anti-seizure drugs may increase risk of cardiovascular problems
Two of the most commonly prescribed anti-seizure medications may increase the risk of cardiovascular problems, such as high cholesterol levels and C-reactive protein, according to a study.
The discovery of this repercussion in the treatment of epilepsy may help doctors offer better care of patients with seizures by prescribing different anti-seizure medications that do not harm cardiovascular health.
Led by Dr. Scott Mintzer, assistant professor in the Department of Neurology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, the study focussed on two of the most widely prescribed anticonvulsants - phenytoin (Dilantin) and carbamazepine (Tegretol, Carbatrol).
The two drugs have potent effects on many enzymes in the body involved in different areas of metabolism.
For the study, the researchers recruited 34 epilepsy patients taking either one of the two drugs, and were being switched over to one of two newer anti-seizure drugs, which do not widely affect enzymes - lamotrigine (Lamictal) or levetiracetam (Keppra).
Their aim was to find out whether the change affected the patients’ cholesterol levels and other key markers of cardiovascular disease.
Significant declines in total cholesterol, “bad” cholesterol, triglycerides and C-reactive protein were seen in just six weeks after the patients’ drugs were switched.
That indicated that the older, commonly used drugs might substantially increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, said the researchers.
“The epilepsy patients in this study saw a rapid and clinically significant improvement in several markers related to cardiovascular disease, including a decrease in total cholesterol that averaged 26 points. This is almost certainly not due to some positive effect from the new drugs. It’s a consequence of being taken off the older ones, which were causing the cholesterol and other markers to be elevated in the first place,” said Mintzer.
He added: “While more investigation is needed, these results may help physicians better understand the risks of these drugs and choose the most appropriate treatment for their epilepsy patients, especially those who are already at risk for cardiovascular disease or have a family history of it.”
The study has been published in the online edition of Annals of Neurology. (ANI)