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New research suggests common anti-seizure medications may increase risk of cardiovascular problems
Date:3/18/2009

PHILADELPHIA An important clinical repercussion in the treatment of epilepsy has been discovered by a research team led by Scott Mintzer, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Neurology and the Jefferson Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University. The team has determined that two of the most commonly prescribed anti-seizure medications may lead to significantly increased levels of cholesterol, C-reactive protein and other markers of cardiovascular disease risk. The finding set to be published in the March 18th online edition of Annals of Neurology may help doctors manage the care of patients with seizures more effectively by prescribing different anti-seizure medications that will not adversely affect cardiovascular health.

The study involved two of the most widely-prescribed anticonvulsants phenytoin (Dilantin) and carbamazepine (Tegretol, Carbatrol) which have potent effects on many enzymes in the body involved in different areas of metabolism. The researchers recruited 34 epilepsy patients taking either one of those two drugs who were being switched over to one of two newer anti-seizure drugs which do not widely affect enzymes lamotrigine (Lamictal) or levetiracetam (Keppra). The goal was to determine if the change affected the patients' cholesterol levels and other key markers of cardiovascular disease.

Just 6 weeks after the patients' drugs were switched, there were significant declines in total cholesterol, non-high-density lipoprotein (commonly referred to as 'bad') cholesterol, triglycerides and C-reactive protein, suggesting the older, commonly-used drugs might substantially increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

"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 certainl
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Contact: Ed Federico
ed.federico@jefferson.edu
215-955-5507
Thomas Jefferson University
Source:Eurekalert

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