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2017 Grants - Hernandez
Claims Data Mining to Predict Side Effects of Anti-Dementia Drugs
Inmaculada Hernandez, PharmD., Ph.D.
University of Pittsburgh
2017 Alzheimer’s Association Research Grant to Promote Diversity (AARG-D)
What factors increase the risk for cardiovascular side effects in people taking medications to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s is a progressive brain disease in which nerve cells become damaged and die over time, leading to problems with memory and other cognitive functions. While current medications cannot stop the damage Alzheimer’s causes to brain cells, they may help lessen symptoms, such as memory loss and confusion for a limited time. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two types of medications – cholinesterase inhibitors (Aricept, Exelon, Razadyne) and memantine (Namenda). Each of these medications have been associated with increased risk for cardiovascular side effects (e.g. irregular heartbeat, heart attack), but there is limited information on what makes patients more likely to have side effects and if certain drugs, or drug combinations, are safer than others.
Inmaculada Hernandez, PharmD., Ph.D. and colleagues will use real-world data to identify factors that increase the risk for cardiovascular side effects in people using cholinesterase inhibitors or memantine. They will use “data mining” to analyze large amounts of information collected from several years of Medicare claims data. The claims data include information on diagnosis, procedures and prescriptions for people on Medicare insurance. For this study, the researchers will focus on people with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and no history of cardiovascular disease. Their goal is to determine factors that may elevate risk for cardiovascular side effects. They will also compare the “safety profile” for each medication and for combination therapy (cholinesterase inhibitor + memantine).
The results of these studies will provide more comprehensive information on the safety of Alzheimer’s medications in real-world clinical settings. This work could help identity individuals at a higher risk for cardiovascular risk factors and guide healthcare providers in prescribing the safest treatment options. In the long-term, these findings could help improve the health and safety of people with Alzheimer’s disease by effectively reducing the incidence of cardiovascular side effects related to dementia medications.