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This article was published in July 2013. The information may be out of date. Please check our epilepsy information or our site A-Z.

Epilepsy and Alzheimer's leads to earlier cognitive decline

31 Jul 2013

A study has reported that people with epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease developed decreased thinking abilities (cognitive decline) faster than those without epilepsy.

The study was made between 2007 and 2012. It included 54 people. ‘Epileptic activity associated with Alzheimer’s disease deserves increased attention because it has a harmful impact on these patients, can easily go unrecognized and untreated, and may reflect pathogenic processes that also contribute to other aspects of the illness,’ researchers wrote.

The participants of the study had epilepsy and:

  • Mild cognitive impairment, or
  • Alzheimer’s disease.

The results of the study showed that people with mild cognitive impairment and epilepsy started having symptoms of cognitive decline up to 6.8 years earlier than those without. Participants with epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease had symptoms of cognitive decline 5.5 years earlier than those without epilepsy.

The study took place at the Memory and Aging Centre, University of California, San Francisco, US.

‘These findings are important because they suggest epileptic activity as a new target for therapy in Alzheimer’s disease,’ said Keith A. Vossel, MD, MSc, assistant professor at the University of California. ‘By treating seizures we may be counteracting some of the symptoms and, possibly, even some of the disease-promoting mechanisms at work in this condition.’

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