Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) is the second most common dementia. Features of DLB include postganglionic cardiac sympathetic denervation and autonomic instability. Rivastigmine therapy, an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, is widely used in the primary treatment of DLB; however, the cardiovascular safety and tolerability of transdermal rivastigmine needs to be reviewed.
To evaluate whether transdermal rivastigmine has an effect on blood pressure, heart rate, and electrocardiography measurements.
Materials and Methods:
A total of 722 patients diagnosed with dementia were retrospectively screened. Fifty-seven of 98 DLB patients who received transdermal rivastigmine treatment with available serial electrocardiography and blood pressure measurements were included in the study. Baseline and follow-up measurements were compared for patients on the 9.5 to 13.3 mg/d rivastigmine dose for at least 4 weeks.
The mean age of the patients was 80.77±6.04, and the majority were women (63%). A total of 8 cases with bradycardia and 5 with orthostatic hypotension were detected during follow-up, and rivastigmine patch was stopped in one of those 8 patients due to symptomatic bradycardia. Nonetheless, there was no difference between baseline and follow-up measurements of the patients, including heart rate, cardiac rhythm, electrocardiographic intervals, blood pressure, pulse pressure, and postural blood pressure changes.
Transdermal rivastigmine therapy is not associated with arrhythmogenic or hypotensive effects in the elderly patients with DLB. However, when prescribing transdermal rivastigmine, physicians should pay attention to newly emerging orthostatic hypotension during the follow-up in these patients.