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Spaghetti on the Wall: Alzheimer's Disease, Heart Attacks & Death

Posted Jun 11 2013 3:00am
Throw spaghetti on the wall and see if it sticks.  The idea is to try some (random) ideas and see which one works.  In one sense, you can look at observational studies as just that, throwing spaghetti on the wall, especially when a trial is published with a new association, heretofore unknown.  Of course, you follow up that first strand of spaghetti with another, and perhaps even a few more for good measure, just to make sure you're looking at a trend and not a fluke.  But when it comes to research, we need randomized controlled trials to offer proof of cause & effect, no matter how many observational studies are published.

But with all that in mind, I must admit that my curiosity was piqued when I stumbled upon a study published early online last week in the European Heart Journal in which the authors concluded that use of cholinesterase inhibitors (ChEI) in those with Alzheimer's disease (AD) was associated w/lower risk of heart attack & death.  I don't know about you, but for me, that came out of left field .  The authors followed 7,073 Swedes (avg 79yo) w/AD for an average of 503 days (just over a year & 4mo for those of you who think like I do in those terms).  

After taking into account the usual suspects (confounders), the authors noted that those participants w/AD who took a ChEI had a one-third lower risk for heart attack or death compared to those who did not take a ChEI.  Similar statistics were noted when ChEI use was compared to heart attacks & deaths in isolation in non-users.  More importantly, use of the highest ChEI doses was associated w/lowest risk of heart attack (65% lower) and death (46% lower), again compared to non-users.

So what's this mean for you & me?  I dunno!  But it's certainly intriguing!  And I'm definitely looking forward to that next strand of spaghetti being flung against the wall . . .

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