Researchers have identified a potential new benefit of a commonly-used treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

A study published by researchers at Monash University and the Karolinska Institutet demonstrated that the risk of ischaemic stroke was 15 per cent lower and the risk of death was 24 per cent lower in people with dementia who were dispensed acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (AChEIs) compared to people with dementia not dispensed these drugs.

The study builds upon previous research that suggests that AChEIs have anti-inflammatory properties and help to protect the endothelial cells that line the interior surface of blood vessels.

Published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, a leading dementia-specific journal, the study is based on data from 44,288 individuals registered in the Swedish Dementia Registry (SveDem).

It suggests that the use of AChEIs could potentially reduce the risk of ischaemic stroke.

While these promising findings still need to be confirmed in other studies, the study’s lead author Dr Edwin Tan highlighted that reducing stroke risk remains important for improving the care and quality of life of people with dementia.

“People with dementia who experience a stroke have accelerated functional decline and poorer survival,” Dr Tan said.

“And previous studies have shown that there is a two-fold greater risk of stroke in people with dementia compared to those without.”

As well as adding to the burden placed on individuals, carers and their families, stroke is associated with considerable healthcare expenditure. This means that, in addition to the direct consumer benefits, the use of AChEIs in people with dementia could potentially decrease the cost of care through reduced stroke risk.

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