In the last decade a number of medications have been developed to reverse/halt the effects of dementia. One of the most common disorders associated with dementia world wide is Alzheimer’s.
This awful disease generally starts around the age 70 and progresses relentlessly. Now drug companies are marketing drugs to help halt or reverse the dementia . The first such drug used to reverse dementia was Aricept. Since then, a variety of other nootropic drugs have been developed including donepezil, galantamine, and rivastigmine. A number of clinical studies have been done comparing these drugs to placebo in patients with Alzheimer’s.
In all the studies, only the mildest cases of Alzheimer’s dementia was improved with these drugs. Further, there was no difference between the drugs. The most clear finding from these trials was that these drugs had significant side effects and close to 30-50 percent of patients had to discontinue the drugs.
At the moment, these nootropic drugs have not been the panacea for treatment of dementia. These drugs do not work in all types of dementia except Alzheimer’s.
And even when the drugs work, only the mild cases of Alzheimer’s disease improves. Finally, these drugs are fairly expensive and not everyone responds to them. Less than 5 percent of patient show any significant improvement.
So what is the consumer supposed to do? Most experts do not recommend these drugs because of the profound side effects which makes the individual worse than he/she previously was. Further these medications have to be taken every day and do not cure Alzheimer’s disease. The beneficial effects of these drugs are not long lasting and stop the moment the drug is discontinued.
The decision of whether to start drug therapy to reverse or halt dementia is personal and requires some clinical judgment. Unfortunately so far no drug has made any great impact on the disease. As of today, loving and supportive care of your family member is still better than any drug therapy for Alzheimer’s disease