Treatment of dementia with drugs
Dementia prevention, intervention and care series-III
Although prevention of dementia seems to be by far much more effective and preferable than treatment of an already developed dementia, the reality is that an increasing number of people experience this serious condition. While there is currently no cure for dementia, several prescription medications can help to slow down the progression of negative cognitive effects and other symptoms that dementia can cause.
Life-style factors influencing brain health in the treatment of dementia?
It is reasonable to include all the factors known to influence risk of developing dementia in the treatment, because these might reduce the progression of the disease and have beneficial effects on other aspects of human health like cardiovascular, metabolic (diabetes), and muscular-skeletal conditions. That means we would need to care about diet, body weight, physical activity, alcohol consumption, smoking, hearing, and social activities. However, unfortunately the scientific evidence that these factors might have a positive effect on cognitive function in an already developed disease is rather moderate or none-existing.
Vitamin B and docosahexaenoic acid for patients with mild cognitive impairment?
A combination of pharmacological doses of B vitamins (folic acid, B6 and B12) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) might be beneficial for patients with mild cognitive impairment, but more studies are necessary to prescribe these nutrients to dementia patient.
Cholinesterase inhibitors for developed dementia
For patients with developed Alzheimer disease, there are some drugs available named cholinesterase inhibitors that improve cognitive function. These drugs inhibit the breakdown of acetylcholine, and make this important signal molecule available for healthy nerve cells in the brain. Thereby, they enhance cognition and reduce hallucinations. Cholinesterase inhibitors are generally well tolerated, but if side effects occur, they can often cause nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and diarrea.
Anti-dementia drugs are not indicated for patients with a mild cognitive impairment diagnosis.
Article edited by Christian A. Drevon, Lifebrain researcher. Professor emeritus of Medicine (nutrition) of University of Oslo, and consultant in the analytical contract laboratory Vitas Ltd. in Oslo Science Park. Has studied effects of nutrients and physical activity on health, with special focus on molecular nutrition and biomarkers.
Read our previous articles in the dementia series, based on the Lancet Commissions report: