Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Medication to treat agitation for Alzheimer's disease shows mixed results

Date:
February 18, 2014
Source:
University of Rochester Medical Center
Summary:
A glimmer of hope has been found for families caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's disease. Agitation can be one of the most heartbreaking symptoms of the disease, and it is one of the most common reasons Alzheimer's patients are moved out of their homes into higher levels of care. Researchers have now found that a high dose of a common antidepressant significantly reduced agitation in patients. However, given potentially concerning side effects of citalopram, researchers say further investigation is needed to determine whether a smaller dose will be as effective.

The results of a Journal of the American Medical Association study offer a glimmer of hope to families caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's disease. Researchers at the University of Rochester, Johns Hopkins University, and six other academic medical centers found that a high dose of a common antidepressant drug (citalopram) significantly reduced agitation in patients participating in the study. However, given potentially concerning side effects of citalopram, researchers say further investigation is needed to determine whether a smaller dose will be as effective.

Related Articles


Agitation can be one of the most heartbreaking symptoms of the disease, and it is one of the most common reasons Alzheimer's patients are moved out of their homes into higher levels of care. Caregivers watch as their loved ones become increasingly short-tempered, physically restless, resistant to help, or even verbally and physically abusive. Treatment options are very limited. Antipsychotics are often prescribed, but these significantly increase a patient's risk of a stroke, heart attack, or death.

Citalopram, sold under the brand names Celexa and Cipramil, is one of the most common antidepressants taken by older adults in America. In this study, published in the February 19 issue of JAMA, 30 milligrams of citalopram were given to 94 patients with agitation.

Another group of 92 patients with these symptoms took a placebo. At the end of the study, 40 percent of patients who took citalopram had "considerable relief" from their agitation symptoms, compared to 26 percent in the placebo group. Researchers obtained these result by comparing the results of two common rating scales (Neurobehavioral Rating Scale NBRS-A and a modified Alzheimer Disease Cooperative Study-Clinical Global Impression of Change mADCS-CGIC), administered by clinicians at the beginning and the end of the study.

In addition, caregivers of patients taking citalopram experienced reduced caregiver distress, further illustrating the clinical relevance of the treatment and its impact.

"It has been a long time since we've had such positive results in a field that has seen a sea of negative study results," says Anton P. Porsteinsson, M.D., the William B. and Sheila Konar Professor at the University of Rochester and lead author of the study.

However, for older adults, the FDA recommends a maximum dose of 20 milligrams of citalopram to avoid risk of QT interval prolongation, a heart rhythm disorder that could eventually lead to death if not successfully treated. Patients in this study were monitored, and researchers confirmed a greater increase in QT interval occurred in the group of patients taking citalopram.

"There are very limited options for the treatment of this tremendously distressing and difficult to treat behavioral disruption. If non-pharmacological intervention is not beneficial, judicious use of citalopram appears to have a role in managing agitation in patients with Alzheimer's disease but generally the dose should not surpass 20 mg daily" says Porsteinsson.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Rochester Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Anton P. Porsteinsson, Lea T. Drye, Bruce G. Pollock, D. P. Devanand, Constantine Frangakis, Zahinoor Ismail, Christopher Marano, Curtis L. Meinert, Jacobo E. Mintzer, Cynthia A. Munro, Gregory Pelton, Peter V. Rabins, Paul B. Rosenberg, Lon S. Schneider, David M. Shade, Daniel Weintraub, Jerome Yesavage, Constantine G. Lyketsos. Effect of Citalopram on Agitation in Alzheimer Disease. JAMA, 2014; 311 (7): 682 DOI: 10.1001/jama.2014.93

Cite This Page:

University of Rochester Medical Center. "Medication to treat agitation for Alzheimer's disease shows mixed results." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140218163409.htm>.
University of Rochester Medical Center. (2014, February 18). Medication to treat agitation for Alzheimer's disease shows mixed results. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 1, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140218163409.htm
University of Rochester Medical Center. "Medication to treat agitation for Alzheimer's disease shows mixed results." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140218163409.htm (accessed February 1, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

CDC: Get Vaccinated for Measles

CDC: Get Vaccinated for Measles

Reuters - US Online Video (Jan. 30, 2015) The CDC is urging people to get vaccinated for measles amid an outbreak that began at Disneyland and has now infected more than 90 people. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama To Outline New Plan For Personalized Medicine

Obama To Outline New Plan For Personalized Medicine

Newsy (Jan. 30, 2015) President Obama is expected to speak with drugmakers Friday about his Precision Medicine Initiative first introduced last week. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
NFL Concussions Down; Still on Parents' Minds

NFL Concussions Down; Still on Parents' Minds

AP (Jan. 30, 2015) The NFL announced this week that the number of game concussions dropped by a quarter over last season. Still, the dangers of the sport still weigh on players, and parents&apos; minds. (Jan. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.S. Wants to Analyze DNA from 1 Million People

U.S. Wants to Analyze DNA from 1 Million People

Reuters - US Online Video (Jan. 30, 2015) The U.S. has proposed analyzing genetic information from more than 1 million American volunteers to learn how genetic variants affect health and disease. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins