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About Dementia: Drug Treatment For Alzheimer's Disease - DementiaGuide.com
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About Dementia
Alzheimer's Disease


As detailed in the book, Understanding Dementia, the basis of treatment from a drug standpoint are drugs that stop the activity of the enzyme acetylcholinesterase . This enzyme breaks down acetyl choline in the synapse of neurons. Acetyl choline is a neurotransmitter which is important for memory and which is lessened in Alzheimer's disease . By stopping the enzyme which breaks down acetyl choline, more acetyl choline is being made available to the body. This improves the communication between neurons, and as a result, memory can be improved.

Successful treatment with these types of drugs usually involves starting the drugs at one dose and building them up to their maximum dose. The process can take 4-8 weeks, depending on the drug and how well tolerated it is. Each drug has symptoms which it works best on, but not all drugs work the same way on everyone. So the choice as to what drug should be used is individualized. Just because someone does not do well on one drug, does not mean that they will not do well on another. At present, there is no good way of telling who will do best with which drug.

In addition to the cholinesterase inhibitors , including Donepezil, Rivastigmine, and Galantamine, a more recently available drug in North America is Memantine . Again, the experience that people have varies a fair amount between patients. With Memantine, it is important to start the drug at a low dose and to increase it slowly over a couple of months. This does the best at maximizing the treatment effect and minimizing the side effects.

See Also:
About Dementia > Treatments for Dementia > Cholinesterase Inhibitors
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Last updated January 13, 2019
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