How Does Treatment Differ Between Mid/Moderate Alzheimer's Disease And More Severe Cases?

Dr. Doody answers the question: 'Treating Moderate, Severe Alzheimer's?'

May 4, 2009 -- Question: How does treatment differ between mid/moderate Alzheimer's disease and more severe cases?

Answer: The treatment of Alzheimer's disease needs to be individualized. Once a person has a clear diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, they should be allowed a chance to take medications. And almost all patients can take one of the standardized cholinesterase inhibitor therapies for Alzheimer's disease.

In our research data in this center, people who are on therapies and start them early do better for the rest of their disease course. If the person is already moderate or severe by the time they're diagnosed, or if their condition continues to advance despite the use of cholinesterase inhibitors, they can take a second medication in addition to the cholinesterase inhibitor, and that is the NMDA receptor antagonist called memantine.

We also believe that high dose antioxidant vitamins help to slow down the course of Alzheimer's disease and even prolong the patient's survival, so that's something that can be considered in conjunction with a discussion with the physician.