16 June 2009

Dementia drugs may put some patients at risk, Queen's study shows

More awareness of side effects needed by patients, caregivers and doctors, says geriatrics professor
Queen’s University: 27 May 2009
Side effects associated with several commonly-prescribed dementia drugs may be putting elderly Canadians at risk, says Queen's University Geriatrics professor Sudeep Gill.

Cholinesterase inhibitors (Aricept, Exelon and Reminyl) are often prescribed for people with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias because they increase the level of a chemical in the brain that seems to help memory. Although such drugs are known to provoke slower heart rates and fainting episodes, the magnitude of these risks has not been clear until now.

"This is very troubling, because the drugs are marketed as helping to preserve memory and improve function," says Dr. Gill, who is an Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care career scientist, working at Providence Care's St. Mary's of the Lake Hospital in Kingston. "But for a subset of people, the effect appears to be the exact opposite." … > full press release

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