Cohort profile: the Finnish Medication and Alzheimer's disease (MEDALZ) study
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CitationTolppanen, Anna-Maija. Taipale, Heidi. Koponen, Marjaana. Lavikainen, Piia. Tanskanen, Antti. Tiihonen, Jari. Hartikainen, Sirpa. (2016). Cohort profile: the Finnish Medication and Alzheimer's disease (MEDALZ) study. BMJ Open, 6 (7) , e012100. 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-012100.
Purpose The aim of the Medicine use and Alzheimer's disease (MEDALZ) study is to investigate the changes in medication and healthcare service use among persons with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of medications in this group. This is important, because the number of persons with AD is rapidly growing and even though they are a particularly vulnerable patient group, the number of representative, large-scale studies with adequate follow-up time is limited.
Participants MEDALZ contains all residents of Finland who received a clinically verified diagnosis of AD between 2005 and 2011 and were community-dwelling at the time of diagnosis (N=70 719). The diagnosis is based on the National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke and the Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders Association (NINCS-ADRDA) and Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) criteria for Alzheimer's disease. The cohort contains socioeconomic data (education, occupational status and taxable income, 1972–2012) and causes of death (2005–2012), data from the prescription register (1995–2012), the special reimbursement register (1972–2012) and the hospital discharge register (1972–2012). Future updates are planned.
The average age was 80.1 years (range 34.5–104.6 years). The majority of cohort (65.2%) was women. Currently, the average length of follow-up after AD diagnosis is 3.1 years and altogether 26 045 (36.8%) persons have died during the follow-up.
Findings Altogether 53% of the cohort had used psychotropic drugs within 1 year after AD diagnoses. The initiation rate of for example, benzodiazepines and related drugs and antidepressants began to increase already before AD diagnosis.
Future plans We are currently assessing if these, and other commonly used medications are related to adverse events such as death, hip fractures, head injuries and pneumonia.