Alzheimer's Drugs Deemed Effective by Overseas Authorities

Contributed by: Dennis Fortier, President, Medical Care Corporation

 Efficacy of treatment for Alzheimer's disease is a topic of frequent debate and disagreement.  While the data are relatively clear, the source of the disagreement is often "expectations".

For example, if a person with memory loss and behavioral disturbances due to Alzheimer's disease takes a cholinesterase inhibitor, it would be unrealistic to expect an immediate decline of all symptoms and a full return of cognitive function.  Current drugs simply cannot repair damaged brain cells and restore function.  More likely, the treatments would mitigate the symptoms and perhaps slow their rate of progression.

So the question is, do these drugs help?  If you are expecting them to render a cure, then the answer is "no".  But if you are objectively measuring their effect on the quality of the person's life, which incorporates control of symptoms and disease progression, then the answer is "yes".

The National Health Service in the UK has formerly not payed for its citizens with early stage Alzheimer's disease to be treated with cholinesterase inhibitors.  That decision may have been based, in part, on unrealistic expectations.  However, after collecting several years of additional data and weighing the overall benefits of treatment, they have now reversed that decision.

This is another powerful example that early intervention can make a meaningful difference in the quality of life for a person with Alzheimer's disease.   Be vigilant in monitoring your cognitive health and voice any emerging concerns to your physician.

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