Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive form of dementia that starts with mild memory loss and confusion but may lead to disorientation, loss of language, the loss of the ability to care for oneself, and death. In the United States, almost six million women and men suffer from mild-severe AD.
Although AD usually strikes after age 65, some younger people develop it, too (i.e., early-onset Alzheimer’s). Women are more likely to develop AD than men are. Because our population continues to age, researchers estimate that by the year 2060, about 14 million people in the U.S. will have AD.
AD, memory loss, and acting “senile” are not parts of normal, healthy aging. AD is a multifactorial disease, which means that many different internal and external factors may be involved in its development, including:
At Precise Research Centers, Joseph Kwentus, MD, and Karen Richardson, PhD, keep on top of the latest developments in AD diagnosis and treatment. At our office in Flowood, Mississippi, we can help you or your loved one manage symptoms of AD with a variety of medications.
Medications that are currently available are designed to slow the progression of brain abnormalities and dysfunctions that affect cognition and memory. Targets include:
When taken as prescribed, these medications may temporarily improve your loved one’s day-to-day ability to function, as well as their cognition, memory, and enjoyment of life. They may also alleviate troubling and possibly life-threatening symptoms, such as:
Many of these drugs can treat the earliest stage of AD, which is known as mild AD or mild cognitive decline (CD). It’s important to remember that no drug now exists that can cure AD. Each medication has the potential for side effects that must also be considered.
Aducanumab is a disease-modifying immunotherapy that treats mild AD by removing abnormal beta-amyloid to reduce plaques in the brain. It’s given by intravenous infusion for one hour every four weeks. Side effects include fluid buildup or bleeding in the brain, headache, dizziness, falls, diarrhea, or confusion.
Donepezil is a cholinesterase inhibitor that treats mild-severe AD. Administered as a daily tablet, donepezil prevents the breakdown of acetylcholine in the brain.
Possible side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle cramps, fatigue, and weight loss.
Rivastigmine is a cholinesterase inhibitor that treats symptoms of mild-severe AD by preventing the breakdown of both acetylcholine and butyrylcholine (a synthetic neurotransmitter). Rivastigmine is available as a twice-a-day capsule or once-a-day patch.
Possible side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, indigestion, and muscle weakness.
Memantine is an N-methyl D-aspartate (NMDA) antagonist that treats moderate-severe AD by blocking the toxic effects associated with excess glutamate. It also regulates glutamate activation. Start with a once-a-day tablet or solution, increasing dose as tolerated up to twice-a-day. Also available as a daily extended-release capsule at various doses.
Possible side effects include dizziness, headache, diarrhea, constipation, and confusion.
When manufactured together, the memantine and donepezil combination acts as an NMDA antagonist and cholinesterase inhibitor. It’s prescribed for moderate-severe Alzheimer’s and blocks toxicity associated with excess glutamate. It also prevents the breakdown of acetylcholine. Take in a daily extended-release capsule. Dosage is increased as tolerated.
Possible side effects include headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, and anorexia.
Galantamine is a cholinesterase inhibitor that treats symptoms of mild-moderate AD by preventing the breakdown of acetylcholine. This drug also stimulates nicotinic receptors to release more acetylcholine in the brain. Comes in a twice-a-day tablet or extended-release capsule at increasing doses, with tolerance.
Possible side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, dizziness, and headache.
To help yourself or your loved one slow the progression of AD and reduce symptoms with medications, get an in-depth consultation by contacting our office today. Call us at 601-685-3457 or book an appointment online.
At Precise Research Centers, we also conduct clinical trials with new medications. If you’d like to learn more about any upcoming clinical trials for AD, please let us know.