|Back||Reported Adverse Drug Reaction Cases|
|Cholinesterase inhibitors and cardiac arrhythmias|
Cholinesterase inhibitors such as donepezil (Aricept), rivastigmine (Exelon) and galantamine (Reminyl) are being used increasingly in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. The product information for all three drugs notes that increased cholinergic activity may have vagal effects on heart rate such as bradycardia.
The Table shows reports of cardiac arrhythmias and other effects, like syncope, which may be indicative of such problems. The larger number of reports with donepezil is almost certainly due to greater usage of this drug. Most patients recovered after the cholinesterase inhibitor was stopped or in some cases, reduced in dose. Many patients were hospitalised and in 4 cases a pacemaker was required. Four elderly patients died from suspected myocardial infarction; it is unclear whether their medication had any role in these events.
Prescribers need to be aware of the potential for cardiac arrhythmias, particularly bradycardia, with cholinesterase inhibitors. Patients with sick sinus syndrome or other supraventricular cardiac conduction conditions may be at particular risk. A pharmacodynamic interaction can also be predicted with the concomitant use of beta-blockers or calcium channel blockers.
Australian Adverse Drug Reactions Bulletin, Vol.23, no.5 (Oct 2004)
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