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Anti-epileptic drugs linked to higher homocysteine levels

Category: Heart Health and Cholesterol

Individuals who have been taking antiepileptic drugs for many years may benefit from homocysteine testing, as new research suggests that the medications may cause disruptions in this key marker of cardiovascular risk.

A team of Taiwanese researchers analyzed the heart health of 160 epileptic individuals who had been taking medications to control the condition for years. Participants' health was compared to that of 60 healthy individuals who were used as controls.

Compared to the non-epileptic individuals, those who took medications for the condition had significantly higher homocysteine levels, a condition which has been linked to cardiovascular risk. Furthermore, they had higher inflammation markers, cholesterol levels and blood sugar.

The medications that were most strongly correlated with markers of cardiovascular risk were phenytoin, carbamazepine, and valproic acid. These drugs all belong to older generations of epilepsy medications. However, newer versions were not connected to cardiovascular risk.

The team concluded that these newer generation medications should be used whenever possible. This may reduce the cardiovascular risk that appears to be associated with older anti-epileptic drugs.

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