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Understanding Alzheimer Disease Medications (cont.)


Risks of Alzheimer's Disease

Patient Comments
  • Alzheimer's disease begins with subtle symptoms, but gradually becomes worse. Over time, the ability to think and reason clearly, judge situations, solve problems, concentrate, and remember useful information is lost.
  • Eventually, people with Alzheimer's disease are unable to take care of their basic needs, or they loose mobility or the ability to speak. Behavior and personality changes are common.
  • As Alzheimer's disease progresses, constant supervision becomes essential.

Medical Treatment for Alzheimer's

Patient Comments

Individuals with Alzheimer's disease should remain physically, mentally, and socially active as long as they are able. It is believed that mental activity can slow the progression of the disease. Puzzles, games, reading, and safe hobbies and crafts are good choices. These activities should ideally be interactive. They should be of an appropriate level of difficulty so that the person does not become overly frustrated.

Behavior disorders such as agitation and aggression may improve with various interventions. Some interventions focus on helping the individual adjust or control his or her behavior. Others focus on helping caregivers and other family members change the person's behavior. These approaches sometimes work better when combined with drug treatment for depression, mood stabilization, or psychosis.

Alzheimer's disease symptoms can sometimes be relieved, at least temporarily, by medication. Many different types of medications have been or are being studied in the treatment of dementia. Currently, the drugs used for Alzheimer's disease are not a cure, but they help slow down the rate of decline in some people. In many people, the effect is modest, and in others, the effect is not noticeable.

Certain drugs, such as anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen), vitamin E, and hormone therapy (estrogen) have been used on a trial basis in people with Alzheimer's disease. Experts think these drugs might help based on what we know from research about Alzheimer's disease. None of these drugs have yet achieved widespread acceptance as treatment for the disease.

The following sections discuss cholinesterase inhibitors and NMDA inhibitors, which have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease.

Medications for Alzheimer's Disease

There is no cure for Alzheimer's, but number of different drugs are in use to treat the disease's symptoms. They target a couple different mechanisms in the brain and nervous system that lead to Alzheimer's-related dementia. Some drugs reduce the amount of enzyme that breaks down a crucial neurotransmitter chemical, while other drugs target the nerve cell receptors themselves.

A number of existing medications and supplements are also under study. Scientists hope these substances can someday prove useful in combating Alzheimers.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/18/2016
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The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Alzheimer's Disease Medications:

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What were the first symptoms you or a loved one experienced from Alzheimer's Disease?

Alzheimer's Disease - Treatment

What medical treatment were you or a loved one prescribed to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease?

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Alzheimer Disease »

Alzheimer disease (Alzheimer’s disease, AD), the most common cause of dementia1, isan acquired cognitive and behavioral impairment of sufficient severity that markedly interferes with social and occupational functioning.

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