The main attributes for development and progress of Alzheimer’s disease are the formation of plaques and different neurofibrillary tangles between neurons of the brain. Plaques contain protein deposits of beta-amyloid. Neurofibrillary tangles are due to similar protein deposits. These form filaments and disrupt normal functioning of the brain resulting in memory loss, dementia, depression, etc. Various other clinical, genetic, and environmental factors accelerate Alzheimer’s disease.
There is no conclusive scientific evidence of interrelation between these factors or their role in causing Alzheimer’s disease, but they hamper working of neurons and relative synapses. During progress of the disease, acetylcholine levels drop leading to further drop in acetylcholinesterase levels. This finally destroys important neurons.
Pharmacologic treatments aim at restricting any fall in acetylcholine and acetylcholinesterase levels. Cholinesterase or Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors are approved pharmacologic drugs for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. However, acetylcholinesterase inhibitors are more in vogue as cholinesterase inhibitors often cause severe liver problems, requiring regular clinical care and hospitalization.
Common acetylcholinesterase inhibitors are galantamine (Reminyl), donepezil (Aricept), rivastigmine (Exelon), etc. These drugs also cause side effects like vomiting, nausea, diarrhea and anorexia, etc., but do not cause any serious disorders. You develop immunity to such side effects over time. However, if you discontinue the medication for a long period, you need to start with the smallest dosage to re-develop your body’s resistance to the side-effects.
Acetylcholinesterase drugs offer some improvement in functional and mental abilities of Alzheimer’s patients. It does not act similarly with all patients. If you suffer from various other associated illnesses, you experience more side effects and show lower improvements levels. On the positive side, such inhibitors offer some enhancement of different abilities.
This drug shows restricted improvement levels. It shows minor improvement in the cognitive and behavioral abilities but does not show any encouraging levels in overall functional abilities. Side effects are severe with high degrees of anxiety and aggression. Hence, Selegiline therapy is not very popular with Alzheimer’s disease patients.
Regular users of Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs (NSAID) report less occurrences of Alzheimer’s disease.
Vitamin E supplements:
Although Vitamin E safeguards neurons from the negative effects of beta-amyloid deposits, it does not offer any protection against other nervous diseases. It offers temporary relief but does not improve any cognitive functions. Besides, vitamin E has hardly any effect on comparatively elderly patients with severe dementia, so it is not a very popular pharmacologic treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
Reports show Alzheimer’s disease is less in women taking estrogen after menopause. Estrogen protects neurons but does not improve cognitive abilities. Rather, estrogen and progestin, together, accelerate dementia and stroke rates.
Gingko Biloba offers moderate therapeutic benefits for Alzheimer’s patients. But, it can cause serious side effects like bleeding, seizures and coma. Different pharmacologic treatments work differently on different patients. Treatment duration and dosages depend on individual condition. Besides, associated illnesses also decide suitable drug or treatment so that you suffer least possible side effects and benefit to the highest level possible from improved cognitive functions.
You can try different pharmacologic treatments after noticing treatment effects for adequate time. Regular assessment of your mental abilities helps you monitor and plan further treatment courses and options. High treatment costs often dissuade continuance of such therapy in serious patients.