Antipsychotic drugs relieve Alzheimer's symptoms, study shows

16 February 2018 09:20

A new antipsychotic drug has been found to relieve Alzheimer's symptoms

A new antipsychotic drug has been found to relieve Alzheimer's symptoms

A new antipsychotic drug has been found to relieve frightening symptoms suffered by millions of people with Alzheimer's disease.

According to new research, pimavanserin significantly improves psychosis symptoms in sufferers of the condition, without the unpleasant side-effects of currently-used antipsychotics.

Scientists also found that the drug had an even greater benefit in those with the most severe symptoms.

{Increased risk of falls]

Up to half of the 45 million people worldwide living with Alzheimer's will experience psychotic episodes, which is more than many people suffering from other types of dementia.

There is currently no approved safe and effective treatment for these distressing symptoms.

In people with dementia, widely-used antipsychotics lead to sedation, and can double the speed at which brain function deteriorates.

The use of such drugs increases risk of falls and leads to 1,660 unnecessary strokes and 1,800 unnecessary deaths in the UK every year.

Despite all these negative effects, they have very little benefit in improving psychosis in people with dementia.

'Encouraging results provide hope'

The scientists said that pimavanserin works differently to other antipsychotics, by blocking a very specific nerve receptor in the brain. It's now revealed to effectively soothe symptoms of Alzheimer's sufferers without the devastating effects of other antipsychotic drugs.

Professor Clive Ballard, from the University of Exeter Medical School, who led the research, said: "Psychosis is a particularly terrifying symptom of Alzheimer's disease.

"People may experience paranoia, or see, hear or smell things that are not there. It's distressing both for those experiencing the delusions and for their carers.

"It's particularly encouraging that most benefit was seen in those with the most severe psychotic symptom, as this group is most likely to be prescribed antipsychotics."

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