Do Alzheimers Medications Really Help
James M. Ellison, MD, MPH
Swank Center for Memory Care and Geriatric Consultation, ChristianaCare
- Expert Advice
This article explores the pros and cons of the currently approved medications for Alzheimer’s disease.
More than 100 medications are currently being investigated for use in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Patients, families, and clinicians are eagerly awaiting the availability of agents that will more effectively control the symptoms of this most common of dementias. Even more exciting, doctors hope for medications that will halt the progress of cognitive decline or even reverse the destructive process that impedes cognitive functions and ultimately kills brain cells.
While clinicians await the arrival of new treatments, they currently have access to two classes of medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. These widely used medications have sparked controversy between those who consider them valuable treatment tools and those who regard them as hazardous and costly. Lets look at the pros and cons of these medications from an evidence-based, yet practical viewpoint. The FDA approved cognitive enhancers fall into two classes.
Warnings For Other Groups
For pregnant women: Donepezil is a category C pregnancy drug. That means two things:
Tell your doctor if youre pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Donepezil should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk.
If you become pregnant while taking this drug, call your doctor right away.
For women who are breastfeeding: It isnt known if donepezil passes into breast milk. If it does, it may cause side effects in a child who is breastfed. Talk to your doctor if you breastfeed your child. You may need to decide whether to stop breastfeeding or stop taking this medication.
For seniors: As you age, your organs may not work as well as they did when you were younger. More of this drug may stay in your body longer, putting you at risk of increased side effects.
For children: It hasnt been established that donepezil is safe or effective for use in children under the age of 18 years.
How Safe Is Aricept In Treating Dementia Due To Alzheimers
Aricept is safe to use but it can trigger allergic reactions such as hives, swelling of face, lips, throat or tongue and difficulty in breathing etc. In such cases, emergency medical help is required. Stop its use and immediately consult your doctor if there is:
- Seizures, Fits or Convulsions
- Worsening or New Breathing Complications
- Difficult or Painful Urination
- Slow Heartbeats
- A Light-Headed Feeling
- Symptoms of peptic bleeding-like severe heart burn or pain in the abdomen, blood in stools, coughing bloody sputum etc
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A healthy diet can be a great memory loss remedy. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, as well as low-fat proteins such as nuts and seeds. Drinking plenty of water is also beneficial. The environment and personal experiences can affect the way your brain stores information, and this can lead to memory loss. There are many other causes of temporary memory loss, and it is important to get help as soon as possible. You should consult a medical professional to determine what the best treatment will be for your particular situation. What Does Aricept Do for Alzheimers
A healthy diet is another effective memory loss remedy. A healthy diet should include plenty of vegetables and fruits. A healthy diet is a key component in memory improvement. This is the best way to prevent memory loss. The best way to do this is to incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables into your daily routine. If you cant eat fruits and vegetables, you should avoid them altogether. They are packed with antioxidants that can help your brain.
Can You Take Aricept Without Having Alzheimers Is The Drug Used For Other Forms Of Dementia Such As Lewy Body Dementia Or Vascular Dementia
The Food and Drug Administration has only approved Aricept to treat dementia due to mild, moderate, or severe Alzheimers disease. Its not approved for other types of dementia.
But Aricept may sometimes be prescribed off-label for other uses. Off-label drug use means using a drug for a purpose other than what its been approved for by the FDA. These uses may include Lewy body dementia, vascular dementia, and dementia from traumatic brain injury, among others.
Some have shown that Aricept may be beneficial for some of these conditions, but theyre not FDA-approved uses. If you have questions about treatment options for your condition, talk with your doctor.
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What If I Miss A Dose
If you miss a dose of Aricept, you should skip the missed dose. Youll continue taking your next dose at the usual time. You should not take two doses of the drug at the same time to make up for a missed dose.
If you miss taking Aricept for a week or longer, talk with your doctor before taking it again. They may recommend going back down to the starting dose of the drug.
To help make sure that you dont miss a dose, try using a medication reminder. This can include setting an alarm or timer on your phone or downloading a reminder app. A kitchen timer can work, too.
Does Aricept Treat Depression Or Parkinsons Disease
Aricept is FDA-approved to treat only dementia due to Alzheimers disease. Its not approved to treat other types of dementia or depression.
But Aricept may sometimes be prescribed off-label for other types of dementia. Off-label drug use means using a drug for a purpose other than what its been approved for by the FDA. These uses may include dementia associated with Parkinsons disease. Some clinical studies suggest that Aricept may be beneficial for this use, but more research is needed to confirm this.
Aricept is not known to be effective for depression. In fact, it may cause depression as a rare but serious side effect.
A looked at whether donepezil, taken with antidepressants, could help improve cognitive function in adults with depression. The results showed that donepezil was no better than a placebo .
If you have questions about treatment options for your condition, talk with your doctor.
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Do These Medications Work For Mild Cognitive Impairment
Not as far as we know. The research evidence so far indicates that dementia medications do not improve outcomes for mild cognitive impairment.
However, it remains very common for patients with mild cognitive impairment to be prescribed donepezil or another cholinesterase inhibitor.
In principle, this should be done as a trial, meaning that the patient and clinician decide to try the medication, see if its helping with memory or other thinking difficulties, and stop if it doesnt appear to be helping.
In practice, many people with mild cognitive impairment end up taking the cholinesterase inhibitor indefinitely. They may be reluctant to stop, but in other cases, it may be that the prescribing doctor doesnt get around to checking on whether the medication is helping or not.
Data Collection And Analysis
One reviewer extracted data on cognitive function, activities of daily living, behavioural symptoms, global clinical state, quality of life, adverse events, deaths and healthcare resource costs. Where appropriate and possible, we estimated pooled treatment effects. We used GRADE methods to assess the quality of the evidence for each outcome.
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Can Donepezil Cause Problems
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the more common ones associated with donepezil. The best place to find a full list of the side-effects which can be associated with your medicine, is from the manufacturer’s printed information leaflet supplied with the medicine. Alternatively, you can find an example of a manufacturer’s information leaflet in the reference section below. Speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.
|Very common donepezil side-effects||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Drink plenty of water to replace any lost fluids|
|Headache||Drink plenty of water and ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller. If the headaches continue, speak with your doctor|
|Common donepezil side-effects||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Being sick , loss of appetite, tummy discomfort||Stick to simple foods – avoid fatty or spicy meals|
|Feeling dizzy, faint, or tired||Be especially carefully if you are using any tools or machines|
|Sleeping problems, abnormal dreams or nightmares, common colds, feeling agitated or aggressive, muscle cramps, hallucinations , itchy rash, and urine incontinence||If any of these become troublesome, speak with your doctor|
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.
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Eating a healthy diet is an excellent memory loss remedy. It should consist of fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains and low-fat proteins. Avoid alcohol and drugs, which can also cause confusion and memory loss. Its important to follow your doctors recommendations, and review your medications regularly. If you suspect a medical condition, you may want to consult a medical professional for a diagnosis and treatment. This way, a physician can prescribe the right medication. What Does Aricept Do for Alzheimers
Eating a healthy diet is an effective memory loss remedy. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can improve your memory. A balanced diet can also help you to retain information longer. Try to consume at least five servings of these foods a day. The berries contain anthocyanins and flavonoids, which can be very helpful in fighting memory loss. A study of 16,000 women found that those who ate more berries were less likely to suffer from cognitive decline. Turmeric root contains a substance called curcumin, which is found in high concentrations. This compound is a powerful antioxidant that has anti-inflammatory effects.
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Aricept And Herbs And Supplements
There arent any herbs or supplements that have been specifically reported to interact with Aricept. But St. Johns wort, an herbal remedy thought to ease depression, may interact with Aricept. This herb could affect how well the drug works.
Before using any herbs or supplements while taking Aricept, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Do These Medications Work For Dementias Other Than Alzheimers Disease
Studies generally find that cholinesterase inhibitors are associated with modest improvements in symptoms in these other forms of dementia.
For memantine, some research suggests it can help with vascular dementia, although the benefits again seem to be quite modest.
The effect of memantine on Lewy-Body dementia and Parkinsons dementia is less clear, with some research suggesting a small benefit but also reports that some people experience worsening hallucinations and delusions with memantine.
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What Can You Expect About Aricept
You already have the necessary information about Alzheimers disease and its treatment. Let us now delve in what to expect in this medication.
Simply speaking, the effects of Aricept is limited, wherein some people feel better after taking this medication.
A professor of psychiatry, gerontology, and neurology at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, Dr. Lon Schneider M.D, has stated that the people who surround the patient taking the said medication started to see the patients as attentive and interactive again.
On the other hand, some may not notice much, but the benefits that the medicine brings are still intact and should not be discounted entirely. Now if a patient takes the medication and is not sure if theyre benefitting from it, then taper over a couple of months and see how you do without the medicine.
Is Aricept Helpful For End Stage Alzheimer’s Information For Patients And Families
The question âIs Aricept helpful for end stage Alzheimerâs?â is one that family members of patients with this condition are likely to ask of medical professionals. Aricept, one of several medications approved for treating Alzheimerâs, can be taken by patients as a means of decelerating the diseaseâs progression. Though Aricept is commonly prescribed during the early stages of Alzheimerâs, the medication can help people in the end stages as well.
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What Type Of Drug Is Aricept Classified As Is It A Psychotropic Drug
How To Take Donepezil
- Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer’s printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about donepezil, and it will also provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you could experience from taking it.
- Your caregiver will help you to take your tablets/medicine exactly as your doctor tells you to. Take one dose every day just before bedtime. It is usual to be prescribed 5 mg daily to take initially, although your dose could be increased to 10 mg daily after the first month. Donepezil can be taken either with or without food.
- If you have been given the tablets that melt in the mouth, place the tablet on your tongue and allow it to disintegrate in your mouth before you swallow. You may find it helps to have a drink of water before and afterwards.
- If you have been supplied with donepezil liquid medicine , you will also be given a dosing spoon with which to measure out your doses. If you are taking a 5 mg dose, fill the spoon to the 5 ml line if you are taking a 10 mg dose, fill the spoon to the 10 ml line.
- If you forget to take a dose, do not worry, just take your dose on the following day as normal. Do not take two doses together to make up for the forgotten dose. If you forget to take donepezil for more than a week, talk with your doctor before you start to take it again, as you may need to re-start your treatment on a lower dose.
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What Other Information Should I Know
Keep all appointments with your doctor.
Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
Dosage: How Much Aricept Should I Take
The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor’s orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.
- For oral dosage forms :
- For mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease:
- Adults5 milligrams taken at bedtime. Your doctor may increase your dose as needed. However, the dose usually is not more than 10 mg per day.
- ChildrenUse and dose must be determined by your doctor.
- For moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease:
- Adults10 milligrams taken at bedtime. Your doctor may increase your dose as needed. However, the dose usually is not more than 23 mg per day.
- ChildrenUse and dose must be determined by your doctor.
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Description Of The Intervention
Donepezil is a secondgeneration cholinesterase inhibitor . The drug was developed by Eisai and received approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration in 1996, and from the European Medicines Agency in 1997. In most countries it is approved for the treatment of mild or moderate dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease. However, in several countries, including the USA, Canada and Japan, it is also approved for use in severe dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease. Donepezil is available in tablet form. Liquid and transdermal formulations have also been developed, but are not marketed in all countries. The recommended oral dose is 5 mg once a day initially, increasing to 10 mg once a day after at least one month of treatment. In 2010 the FDA approved a 23 mg, onceaday tablet of donepezil. Two other cholinesterase inhibitors are also available.
Can Aricept Be Crushed Split Or Chewed
Aricept oral tablets that contain 5 milligrams or 10 mg of the active drug ingredient may be crushed or split. Most people swallow these whole. If your doctor advises you to do so, you can cut the 5-mg or 10-mg tablets in half.
If you take the 23-mg oral tablets, you should swallow each tablet whole. You should not crush, cut, or chew Aricept tablets that come in this strength.
There are no known interactions between alcohol and Aricept.
But alcohol use can cause some of the same side effects as Aricept. Examples include:
- trouble sleeping
Also, over time, drinking too much alcohol can lead to liver problems. Liver damage, such as alcoholic cirrhosis, could possibly increase your risk for side effects from Aricept.
If you drink alcohol, talk with your doctor before taking Aricept. They can advise you on whether its safe for you to drink any amount of alcohol with your medication.
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