Alzheimer’s Drug Treatment

Living With Alzheimer's

Alzheimer’s Drug Treatment – Fighting Memory Loss

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive degeneration of the brain cells leading to memory lapses and eventually total memory loss. There is yet no cure for this disease. However, the use of drugs can slow down its progression and stabilize symptoms for a period of about six to twelve months or longer. Alzheimers drug treatment includes medications for the treatment of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s and as well as for the severe ones. Compliance to medications is strongly encouraged by health care professionals for the relief of the patient.

Mild to Moderate Alzheimer’s Drug Treatment

Cholinesterase Inhibitors are the group of drugs prescribed for mild to moderate manifestations of Alzheimer’s. These medications delay the deterioration of the patient’s symptoms for some time and it may also help manage behavioral symptoms. Popular medicines under this drug class are:

Razadyne (galantamine)
Reminyl (galantamine)
Exelon (rivastigmine)
Aricept (donepezil)

Scientists and medical experts still don’t know the exact mechanism of how cholinesterase inhibitors work against Alzheimer’s. However, they strongly believe that cholinesterase inhibitors prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in memory and thinking.

Cholinesterase inhibitors cannot permanently bring relief to a patient with Alzheimer’s. In the course of the illness, the brain eventually reduces the production of acetylcholine, making acetylcholine inhibitors unnecessary when in the first place acetylcholine is no longer present.

Moderate to Severe Alzheimer’s Drug Treatment

For the moderate and severe levels of Alzheimer’s, the best drug class is NMDA (N-methyl D-aspartate) antagonists. One popular drug under this class is Namenda (memantine). This drug delays the deterioration of symptoms under moderate and severe Alzheimer’s. It can help lengthen the ability of a patient to perform daily activities for a few months.

NMDA antagonists work against Alzheimer’s by regulating glutamate. Glutamate is a brain chemical that can cause brain cell demise if produced in excessive amounts. NMDA antagonists and cholinesterase inhibitors can actually be combined together.

Aside from Namenda, a newer drug with the same generic name (memantine) has just been approved. This drug’s brand name is Ebixa. In addition, Aricept, a cholinesterase inhibitor can also be used for moderate and severe types of Alzheimer’s as approved by FDA.

Side-effects

Medications used as Alzheimer’s drug treatment has side effects to the body. Exelon, Reminyl, and Aricept have side effects such as nausea, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and vomiting. Ebixa’s side effects are less severe as compared to that of cholinesterase inhibitors, which include headache, fatigue, hypertension and constipation. However, the good thing is these drugs are non-addictive.

Alzheimers drug treatment medications are initially given in lower doses to prevent drug tolerance and to reduce side effects. Patients taking anti-Alzheimer’s drugs are encouraged to follow the treatment regimen religiously.