The 4 Pillars of Alzheimer's Prevention
Pillar 4: Medicines - Medications and Hormones
There is a place for the use of pharmaceutical medications as part of a holistic medical program to prevent and treat Alzheimer's disease. Early detection and prompt treatment of memory problems utilizing an integrative program, including drugs at the proper dose, may delay the development of Alzheimer's by many years.
Of course, these medications should only be taken under the care of a physician who is an expert in treating Alzheimer's disease. It is important that you always work closely with your doctor concerning pharmaceutical use, including those purchased over-the-counter. It should also be recognized that all of these medicines may have serious side effects such as dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, and other symptoms.
The pharmaceuticals currently in use with Alzheimer's are presented in alphabetical order below. To learn more about each and whether they are appropriate in your situation, please contact your doctor.
- Aricept (donepezil): Aricept, like Exelon, is moderately effective in improving short-term memory in patients with early Alzheimer's.
- Exelon (rivastigmine): Exelon has shown to be slightly more effective than Aricept at slowing the rate of decline in a patient with Alzheimer's. Because it blocks two chemical pathways and not just one, it increases the amount of memory chemical in your brain. Exelon is probably most useful in people who are in the earliest stages of memory loss.
- Namenda (memantine): Memantine has been available in many parts of the world for some time, it was just recently approved for use in the United States. Memantine has shown a modest effect in alleviating some of the symptoms for people suffering with advanced Alzheimer's disease. And, according to a recent study, it has no significant side effects.
The drug works by blocking a brain chemical called glutamate, which has been implicated in brain cell death. Interestingly, one reason that chronic stress that is left untreated kills brain cells by the thousands is because the hormone cortisol also disrupts glutamate function inside the brain. This disruption causes many free radicals to form inside your brain cell. Memantine reverses this disruption, and thus helps the brain function at optimal levels.
Note: Memantine is marketed in Europe and Canada as Ebixa.
Again, to learn more about each and whether they are appropriate in your situation, please contact your doctor.
The Value of Hormone Replacement Therapy
Today, there is also strong clinical support that shows benefits of careful hormone replacement therapy for people concerned about their memory. Before you consider hormone replacement therapy, there are important considerations to take into account:
- Hormone levels must be measured in your blood. If they are low, it can make sense to replace them in an informed manner. If they are not low, it is not safe to boost them higher than normal.
- Despite the temptation to do otherwise, if restored, hormone levels should be restored to the naturally occurring levels of a 30- to 40- year-old, and never to the levels of younger individuals.
- Blood tests should be repeated every three months initially, and then every six months to closely monitor your hormone levels.
Hormone replacement therapy offers potentially valuable benefits to individuals with low hormone levels, as well those who exhibit the other necessary requirements to be suited for the treatment. Always consult with your doctor to determine the best course of action for your best health and wellbeing.
All information provided here is for educational purposes only and should not be considered specific medical advice. Consult a physician regarding the applicability of any opinions or recommendations with respect to your symptoms or medical condition.