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Alzheimer's worsened by drugs

1st April 2008

Researchers have suggested that medication used to treat people with Alzheimer's disease could be making their condition deteriorate.

alzheimers1

The anti-psychotic medication, known as euroleptics, was found to provide no improvement for people with mild behavioural difficulties and had a significant effect on the quality of patients' verbal ability.

The UK study, published in the journal Public Libary of Science Medicine, looked at 165 people suffering from advanced forms of the condition who who were living in nursing homes in Oxfordshire, London, Newcastle and Edinburgh.

The participants in the survey had been treated with neuroleptic medication for three months. During the study, they were either given the same treatment for one year or took a placebo.

Around 60% of people with the condition who live in nursing homes take the medication to limit their behaviour.

The research team, from Kings College London and the Universities of Oxford and Newcastle, discovered that the medication did not help most of the particpants who had mild problems with their behaviour.

However, within half a year, some participants demonstrated a noticeable decrease in their verbal skills.

Lead researcher Professor Clive Ballard, said: "It is very clear that even over a six-month period of treatment, there is no benefit from neuroleptics in treating the behaviour in people with Alzheimer's disease when the symptoms are mild."

"For people with more severe behavioural symptoms, balancing the potential benefits against adverse effects is more difficult."


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