Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Medication helps quell the agitation of dementia

22.07.2004


Doctors are reporting some success in treating one of the most troubling symptoms of dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease. A drug commonly used to treat schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders appears effective at reducing actions like screaming at or slapping caregivers – agitated behaviors that occur in as many as half of patients.



The work, led by researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center, was presented July 22 at the 9th International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders in Philadelphia, Pa. The conference is sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association.

The medication tested in the study, quetiapine, was effective at treating agitation, but with fewer side effects than other medicines that doctors turn to now.


"One of the most stressing and vexing changes in behavior in patients with dementia is agitation, which occurs in about half of patients at some point in their illness," says Pierre Tariot, M.D., professor of Psychiatry, Medicine, and Neurology, who led the study. "This behavior can be terrifying to the family and is one of the major reasons many families end up placing their loved ones in nursing homes."

Agitation is also difficult for doctors to treat. Currently there is no medication approved by the Food & Drug Administration to treat agitation in patients with dementia, though doctors and families often try to quell the symptoms with drugs that have been approved for other uses.

Doctors try anti-psychotic medications that usually reduce incidents such as slapping or yelling at caregivers or family members in about 15 to 20 percent of patients, Tariot says. But such medications can cause side effects like weight gain, high cholesterol, sleepiness, and Parkinson’s-like movement difficulties, and some have recently been linked to higher incidences of cerebrovascular "adverse events" such as strokes and transient ischemic attacks.

"All the drugs used currently, including quetiapine, have drawbacks," says Tariot, who is also a researcher in the university’s Center for Aging and Developmental Biology. "There is no ideal solution. For each patient you have to weigh the benefit of the drug against the potential cost in terms of side effects."

Tariot helped lead the study of quetiapine, a newer type of medication known as an "atypical antipsychotic." In a 10-week study of 333 people in nursing homes, the medication reduced such behaviors about 20 percent more often than a placebo did, comparable to the other drugs now available. In addition, the behavior of patients on the medication was more likely to be rated as "improved" or "very much improved," compared to other patients not on the medicine, by doctors and nurses who did not know which patients were on the medicine and which were not.

Significantly, in Tariot’s study and in another presented at the meeting by Lon Schneider, M.D., of the University of Southern California, the medication has shown no evidence so far of causing serious side effects such as strokes, although it does cause sleepiness in some people.

"Quetiapine appears to show a similar treatment effect as other medications commonly used to treat agitation, but with a side effect profile that may be different from the other agents," says Tariot, who also serves as a paid consultant to AstraZeneca, which makes Seroquel®, the brand name of quetiapine. "If quetiapine remains free of the most worrisome side effects through further studies, that would represent an advantage and would offer a new therapeutic option for patients and their families."

While experienced clinicians often turn to atypical antipsychotics like quetiapine to treat agitation in dementia patients, Tariot says this is the first large, double-blind, placebo-controlled study to evaluate just how well quetiapine works. More information is expected next year, when results are announced from a large study funded by the National Institutes of Health that is the first to compare several atypical antipsychotics – such as quetiapine, risperidone, and olanzapine – for treating Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia.

Before turning to medications, however, Tariot and other experts say the best way to treat dementia patients who are agitated is to try to understand if there is a reason underlying the behavior. Health care workers should make sure the person isn’t in pain, for instance, and that caregiver behavior is appropriate and respectful. Check to see that there aren’t features in the environment that can be easily changed, such as excessive heat or noise, which may be disturbing the patient. Sometimes, distracting a patient or changing the subject, as a parent does with a young child, is helpful. Sometimes other medications used to treat Alzheimer’s disease, such as cholinesterase inhibitors or memantine, can alleviate these behaviors. When all such efforts fail – which they do often in patients with dementia, Tariot says – doctors and families should consider medication.

"It’s clear that Alzheimer’s will be the pandemic of the West in the next century," Tariot says. "Right now there are approximately 4.5 million Americans with dementia, and that number is expected to triple over the next few decades. Many of these patients will experience significant change in their emotions and personality. It’s imperative that we find better treatments as soon as possible."

Tom Rickey | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.urmc.rochester.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Researchers show p300 protein may suppress leukemia in MDS patients
28.03.2017 | University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

nachricht When writing interferes with hearing
28.03.2017 | Université de Genève

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers create artificial materials atom-by-atom

28.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers show p300 protein may suppress leukemia in MDS patients

28.03.2017 | Health and Medicine

Asian dust providing key nutrients for California's giant sequoias

28.03.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>