August 21, 2017
1 min read

Antidepressant use in Alzheimer’s disease increases risk for head injury, TBI

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Heidi Taipale
Heidi Taipale

Risks for head injuries and traumatic brain injuries were significantly higher among adults newly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease who recently began using antidepressants.

“Among older persons, antidepressant use has been frequently associated with an increased risk of falls, injurious falls like fractures, and hip fractures. In addition, the risk for head and brain injuries increases with aging,” Heidi Taipale, PhD, of University of Eastern Finland, and colleagues wrote.

To determine risk for head and brain injuries associated with antidepressant use among community-dwelling individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, researchers conducted a matched cohort study of 10,910 new antidepressant users and 21,280 matched nonusers between 2005 and 2011.

Antidepressant use was associated with an increased risk for head injuries, with an age-adjusted event rate of 2.98 per 100 person-years during use and 2.43 during nonuse (adjusted HR = 1.35; 95% CI, 1.2-1.52).

Antidepressant was associated with an increased risk for traumatic brain injuries, with an age=adjusted event rate of 1.33 per 100 person-years during use and 1.1 during non-use (aHR = 1.26; 95% CI, 1.06-1.5).

Risk was highest during the first 30 days of antidepressant use, with adjusted hazard ratios of 1.71 (95% CI, 1.1-2.66) for head injuries and 2.06 (95% CI, 1.12-3.82) for traumatic brain injuries.

Risk for head injuries remained increased over 2 years of antidepressant use.

Case-crossover analyses indicated antidepressant use was consistently associated with increased risk for head injuries.

“The association between antidepressant use and head and brain injuries should be confirmed in further studies. As antidepressant use has also been associated with an increased risk of falling in previous studies, clinicians should keep on carefully considering indications and use of antidepressants for the safety of vulnerable patients.” – by Amanda Oldt

Disclosure: Taipale reports participating in research projects funded by Janssen and Eli Lilly with grants paid to the institution where she was employed. Please see the study for a full list of relevant financial disclosures.