ENGLEWOOD, Colo., May 5 /PRNewswire/ -- A well-known medication used to
treat Alzheimer's disease has shown continued benefits for at least 12 months
for stroke survivors experiencing the deterioration of thinking abilities
caused by stroke or multiple strokes, also called vascular dementia (VaD)
according to one recent study.
Researchers reported this week at the American Psychiatric Association
meeting the results of a study using the drug Aricept(R) (donepezil
hydrochloride) with 453 patients diagnosed with VaD. The study was designed
to determine if the drug was safe and effective long-term (one year) and could
help maintain or improve the memory loss and cognitive function that can be
caused by VaD. The results indicated that patients receiving Aricept(R)
sustained their cognitive function, which was measured by their Alzheimer's
Disease Assessment Scale cognitive scores.
National Stroke Association (NSA) is optimistic about the findings and
hopes further research will show the same promising results.
"The finding of sustained memory benefit for stroke survivors at 12 months
with the drug Aricept(R) strengthens the evidence that benefits of Aricept(R)
may apply in an even more important manner in stroke survivors compared to
Alzheimer patients," said Dr. Dan Hanley, Chairman of the National Stroke
Association Professional Advisory Committee and professor of neurology at
Johns Hopkins Hospital.
VaD, a decline in intellectual abilities such as memory and
decision-making, occurs when brain tissue is damaged by reduced blood flow to
the brain, most commonly by a stroke or series of strokes. The brain cells
have difficulty working together to process information. This can lead to
memory loss, confusion, and decreased attention span, in addition to problems
with activities of daily living.
The occurrence of VaD increases with age, and many experts estimate that
approximately 10 to 20 percent of Americans over age 65 experiencing dementia
have VaD, making it second only to Alzheimer's disease as a leading cause of
Several of the risk factors for VaD are the same as for stroke, including
high blood pressure, history of previous stroke, diabetes, heart disease, and
high cholesterol levels.
Sometimes, the dementia can come on abruptly as the result of a single
stroke, depending on the location and size of damaged brain area. In other
instances, the onset of VaD is so gradual that healthcare providers may have
difficulty distinguishing it from Alzheimer's disease.
Patients with VaD often deteriorate in a step-wise manner, with symptoms
becoming greater with each new stroke. Symptoms may include: memory loss,
confusion, mood swings and personality changes, difficulty planning and
organizing tasks, language problems, difficulty paying attention or following
a conversation, impaired motor skills, visual orientation problems, difficulty
with calculations, making decisions, solving problems or depression-like
Currently, there are no medicines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) available for the treatment of VaD. The current
treatment strategies focus on reducing the risk of additional strokes, or
prevention of stroke.
More research is needed to determine if Aricept(R) is safe for patients
with stroke-related dementia and effective in helping maintain or improve
cognitive function in that group.
Based in Englewood, Colo., National Stroke Association is a leading
independent national non-profit organization devoting 100 percent of its
efforts and resources to stroke prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and
support for stroke survivors and their families. For more information on NSA
programs, call 1-800-STROKES (1-800-787-6537) or visit www.stroke.org.
SOURCE National Stroke Association