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Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia Articles:

Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's Disease: An Introduction

Alzheimer's Brain: Degenerative Changes

Alzheimer's Brain: Degenerative Changes Page#2

Alzheimer's Diagnosis

Caregiving for the Alzheimer's patient: Is there a problem?

Long Term Care and Dementia

Long Term Care and Alzheimer's

Dementia: What are the various different diagnosis?

Dementia Diagnosis Page #2

Dementia Symptoms and Diagnosis  Page #3  

Dementia Symptoms and Executive Functioning  Page #4  

Alzheimer's Treatment 

Medications Make Alzheimer's Patients Worse

Alzheimer's Caregivers Make the Holidays Wonderful   

The Best Friend Approach to Alzheimer's

Alzheimer's Disease and Memory Medications:

Aricept Medication: Is this really a memory drug?

Exelon Medication

Namenda Medication: The Memory Drug

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 Medications Make Alzheimer’s Disease Patients Worse 

 

A recent study in the United Kingdom has found that antipsychotic drugs which are commonly given to Alzheimer’s patients, frequently make their condition worse.  These drugs are now believed according to the study, to provide no benefit for patients with mild behavioral problems, but at the same time may cause marked deterioration in verbal skills.  The research focused on 165 people who are living in nursing homes in four British cities who had advanced Alzheimer’s disease.  It is estimated that as many as 60% of Alzheimer’s disease patients living in nursing homes, may be given these drugs to control aggression and other behavioral problems at some point in time.  This study was recently reported in the journal Public Library of Science Medicine. 

Case study: 

According to a story reported by BBC News, Rita Clark from Cleveland Ohio, said her husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease approximately 7 years ago. She stated that: “My husband developed a range of side effects while receiving antipsychotic drugs.  Since the drugs have been withdrawn, the side effects have gone a he generally seems much better and more settled..  I’m not saying it’s the same for everyone, but in my husband’s case, withdrawing the drugs has led to a clear improvement in his quality-of-life.” 

The researchers in this study from the universities of Oxford and Newcastle, and from King’s College in London, have concluded that the antipsychotic medications offered no long-term benefit for most patients with mild symptoms of disturbed behavior. 

Many patients showed a marked deterioration in their verbal fluency within six months of treatment.  Additional preliminary analysis currently being conducted on the data, seems to suggest that the use of antipsychotic medications may also increase mortality rates.  Research was focused on patients living in nursing homes in Newcastle, Edinburg, London and Oxfordshire.  All of the patients in this study were taking antipsychotic medications or what are frequently referred to as neuroleptics for at least three months, and were continued on the same medication for an additional 12 months, or took a nonactive, dummy pill.  Professor Clive Ballard, who is the lead researcher on the study stated that: “It is very clear that even over a six-month period of treatment, there’s no benefit for neuroleptics in treating the behavior in people with Alzheimer’s disease when the symptoms are mild”.  He also went on to conclude that: “For people with more severe behavioral symptoms, balancing the potential benefits against adverse effects is more difficult.” 

Rebecca Wood from the Alzheimer’s research trust stated: “These results are deeply troubling and highlight the urgent need to develop better treatments.”  The trust concluded that antipsychotic medication should only be prescribed long-term to dementia patients with severe behavioral problems, and then probably only as a last resort when all other nondrug options have failed. 

Additional risks for stroke: 

Neil Hunt of the Alzheimer’s Society has concluded that previous research has also found a higher risk for stroke and death when neuroleptic drugs are used for people with dementia. He stated:” This widespread overprescription to people with dementia must stop”.  “It is time we stop wasting money giving people drug treatments with no benefit and start investing in good-quality dementia care.” 

It is believed that an estimated 700,000 people are affected with dementia in the United Kingdom, a number that should double in the next 30 years.  An additional report on the use of antipsychotics in care homes will be published by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on dementia later this month.  Jeremy Wright, group chairman stated: “We urgently need to ensure people with dementia are only prescribed drugs as a last resort, not as an easy option.  We will set out simple changes that must be made to stop this abuse when we publish our findings at the end of April.” 

The medications that were referred to in the study which came under analysis were risperidone (Risperdal), thioridazine (Melleril), chlorpromazine (Largactil), haloperidol (Serenace), and trifluoperazine (Stelazine). 

Information adapted from a story from BBC News

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/health/7319393.stm

Published 2008/04/01  00:20: 26 GMT

Additional Information and webpage by Paul Susic MA Licensed Psychologist Ph.D. Candidate       

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