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People With Alzheimers And Parkinson’s

Better Quality Of Life Offered To People With Alzheimers And Parkinson’s

Research has shown that people with Alzheimers and Parkinson’s disease could benefit from treatment with one of the newer anti-psychotic medicines.

Visiting American psychiatrist Dr Jacobo Mintzer says the drug Seroquel treats some of the side-effects of these diseases, including tremors, which prove so debilitating.

Dr Mintzer, who is visiting New Zealand to speak to local clinicians, says trials with Seroquel indicate that even small improvements in physical capacity make an enormous impact on an elderly person’s well-being.

“To be able to eat without spilling food proves a huge relief to people who have been suffering tremors and physical impairment as the result of their disease,” said Dr Mintzer. “And it is very meaningful for an older patient to be able to place his own dentures inside his mouth – something that may be almost impossible when someone is suffering from the side effects (buco-linguil movements) observed with treatment. We are aiming to aid patients who suffer from the behavioural disturbances commonly observed in the Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s patient.”

Dr Mintzer, who is Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology at the Medical University of South Carolina, was one of the lead investigators in a major trial, called QUEST, which compared the benefits of Seroquel (quetiapine) with another of the newer “atypical” anti-psychotics, Risperdal (risperidone). Traditionally, these drugs have been used for the treatment of schizophrenia and other disorders where people suffer from an impairment of reality. However, the QUEST study looked at patients who suffered from a wide range of psychoses across various disease states.

All antipsychotic drugs – new and old – have about the same success in treating hallucinations (e.g. hearing voices) and delusions (e.g. bizarre beliefs). However, only the atypical antipsychotics help to manage psychotic symptoms such as apathy and social withdrawal.

Among these newer atypical antipsychotics, it is in the absence of debilitating physical side effects that Seroquel further distinguishes itself from Risperdal, according to the QUEST study. Although this open clinical practice study needs to be confirmed with more scientifically rigid, double-blinded controlled trials. The results of these studies could offer a new therapeutic opportunity for these patients.

Dr Mintzer was responsible for analysing the results of a subset of geriatric patients in the QUEST study.

“We still need more data, which should be available in two to three years, but Seroquel would appear to have a strong role in the treatment of psychotic symptoms in elderly patients.”


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