There is no cure for Alzheimer's disease, but there are two types of medications that can help manage the symptoms of the disease.
Alzheimer's medications are primarily based on a strategy that helps slow or manage memory loss, thinking and thinking problems, and daily function. Although Alzheimer's drugs do not cure the disease,however they can help to improve the patient's quality of life and help the patient to meet their daily needs independently.
There are two types of drugs approved for the treatment of Alzheimer's: drugs that temporarily relieve some symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. Medications may not help every Alzheimer's patient and may lose their effectiveness over time. These medications are usually most effective for people with early and moderate stage of Alzheimer's disease.
Research is underway on more effective Alzheimer's drugs.
The role of existing Alzheimer's drugs
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved various drugs specifically to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.
Specifically approved for Alzheimer's stages. These stages - light, medium and heavy - are based on test scores that assess memory, knowledge of time and space, thinking and reasoning.
However, doctors may prescribe Alzheimer's drugs for stages other than those approved by the FDA. It should also be noted that the stages of Alzheimer's are not clear, individual reactions to medications vary, and treatment options are limited.
Clinical trials that have shown that Alzheimer's drugs can prevent the progression of MCI to Alzheimer's disease have generally shown no lasting benefit.
Alzheimer's disease usually begins with a decrease in the level of a chemical (acetylcholine) that is important for wakefulness, memory, and thinking. Cholinesterase inhibitors increase the amount of acetylcholine present in nerve cells by preventing its breakdown in the brain.
Of course, cholinesterase inhibitors cannot reverse Alzheimer's disease or stop the destruction of nerve cells. These drugs also lose their effectiveness over time because shrinking brain cells produce less acetylcholine.
Common side effects may include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Starting treatment at a lower dose and working up to a higher dose can help reduce side effects. Taking these medications with food can also help minimize side effects.
People with certain types of cardiac arrhythmias should not take cholinesterase inhibitors.
Three types of cholinesterase inhibitors are usually prescribed to treat Alzheimer's disease:
Donepezil (Aricept) has been approved to treat all stages of the disease. It is taken in pill form once a day.
Galantamine (Razadyne) has been approved for the treatment of mild to moderate Alzheimer's. It is taken in the form of tablets once a day or extended capsules twice a day.
Rivastigmin (Exelon) has been approved for mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease. It is taken as a pill. It can also be used to treat severe Alzheimer's disease.
For later stages, the use of a drug called memantine was more effective.
Memantin (Namenda) is an FDA-approved drug for the treatment of moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease. Memantin works by regulating the activity of glutamate, which is widely involved in many brain functions, including learning and memory. It is taken in the form of tablets or syrup. Common side effects include dizziness, headache, confusion, and anxiety.
The FDA has also approved a combination of donepezil and memantine (Namzaric) taken as capsules. Side effects include headache, dizziness, nausea and diarrhea.
Because Alzheimer's is a developing disease, the symptoms and plan to fight them are a process that will change over time. When planning an Alzheimer's drug, all planning should be reviewed continuously and the decision on how long to continue should be made with the doctor.
Aducanumab is an intravenous infusion therapy and is the first approved drug for Alzheimer's disease. This drug is approved only for patients with mild dementia due to mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease.
The FDA has approved aducanumab in accordance with an accelerated approval provision because it reduces brain beta-amyloid, which is thought to be a major part of the Alzheimer's disease pathway.
However, the benefits of this drug for daily activities, thinking or memory are not fully understood. Side effects may include:
Amyloid-related visual disturbances - cerebral edema (ARIA-E) (edema)
Amyloid-related imaging disorders - hemosiderin deposition (ARIA-H), small cerebral hemorrhage (microhemorrhage), and cerebral hemorrhage along the surface of the brain (superficial siderosis)
Repeated brain MRIs are needed to detect these changes.
The current use of adukanumab is limited because the Medicare and Medicaid Service Centers (CMS) are working on plans to provide coverage for people participating in randomized controlled trials approved by Medicare and CMS.