Drugs To Fight Alzheimer's

There is no cure for Alzheimer's disease.

Several drugs are available to resist cognitive deterioration.  Their object is to improve cognitive ability - which is the capacity to perceive, recognize and evaluate.

To date five Alzheimer treatment medicines are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Research continues to evaluate their effectiveness which remains far from a complete solution.  Each exhibits a variety of adverse side effects, some serious.

Both beneficial and adverse effects of each drug vary markedly between patients, which complicates evaluation.  Each treatment will help some patients with acceptable side effects, so all should be considered when alternatives prove unsuitable.

FDA approved drugs comprise:
Aricept, Cognex, Exelon and Razadyne - which are Cholinesterase Inhibitors.
Nameda - which affects the neurotransmitter Glutamate

The Cholinesterase Inhibitors work by resisting the breakdown of brain acetylcholine.  Memory is implemented by the formation of chemical connections between nerve cells as a sort of index to associate ideas.
Acetylcholine facilitates communications between nerve cells - which is key to the memory function.

Nameda acts on Glutamate, also a neurotransmitter, and defends against nerve cell destruction.  Nameda seems most effective for treatment of moderate to severe cases of the disease.

Unfortunately, Nameda suffers side effects including confusion, constipation, dizziness, headache, skin rashes.  Less frequent side effects include back pain, raised blood pressure, hallucinations, insomnia, tiredness, sporadic shortness of breath, vomiting.

Aricept, Exelon and Razadyne seem more effective for treatment of earlier Alzheimer stages.  They also display some modest effect to retard degeneration of cognitive abilities. They can also reduce behavioral problems associated with Alzheimers.  When effective, they can materially improve patient quality of life plus their ability to cope with the disease.

Sadly, Cholinesterase Inhibitors also exhibit adverse side effects.

Common Aricept side effects include muscle cramps, nausea, sleep difficulties, tiredness, vomiting.  Less frequent complications are anorexia (rare), bladder overflow obstruction, convulsions, dizziness, duodenal or gastric ulcers, gastro-intestinal hemorrhage, headaches, heart problems, liver damage, psychiatric disturbances.

Typical Exelon side effects are fatigue, nausea, stomach upset, vomiting, weight loss.  Less common problems include abdominal pain, diarrhea, gastro-intestinal bleeding (rare), headaches, psychiatric disturbance (e.g. anxiety or depression), sweating, tremor.

Cognex is deployed less frequently against Alzheimers due to risk of serious liver damage.  Other complications include nausea and vomiting; also to a lesser extent - abdominal pain, dizziness, headache, increased urination, insomnia, rapid breathing, runny nose or mouth, sore muscles, swelling of legs and feet.  Most severe are heart problems, liver damage and seizures.

Razadyne side effects reported include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, weight loss.  Less frequent are abdominal pain, bloody urine, dizziness, fatigue, headaches, runny nose, tremor, urinary tract infection. No serious side effects are reported from Razadyne.

In summary, the range of drugs presently available are beneficial to some - but none are universally effective and all manifest a range of discouraging side effects.  There remains major scope and need for improvements in range and reliability of beneficial effects - and to reduce the many adverse side effects.

Further Reading

Alzheimer 101
Alzheimer's Care Facility
Alzheimer's Disease
Alzheimer's Disease And Its Symptoms
Alzheimer's History And Outlook
Alzheimer's Patch
Alzheimer's Patient Treatment And Care
Alzheimer's Testing
Alzheimer's, Not Just An Old Man's Disease
Alzheimers And Dementia
Cause Of Alzheimer's Disease
Drugs As A Treatment For Alzheimers
Drugs To Fight Alzheimer's
Finding Caregivers For Alzheimers
Finding Out Early On About Alzheimers
Keeping People With Alzheimer's Busy
Living With Alzheimer's Disease
Preventing Alzheimer's Disease
Stages Of Alzheimer's
Symptoms Of Alzheimer's
Tell Tale Signs Of Alzheimer's
Understanding Alzheimers Better
What Exactly Is Alzheimer's?
What To Look Out For In Alzheimer's
Who Are You? Alzheimer's Symptoms