Alzheimers disease (AD) is the most common neurodegenerative disorder. Worldwide prevalence of the disease is estimated at more than 24 million cases. With aging of populations, this number will likely increase to more than 80 million cases by the year 2040. The annual incidence worldwide is estimated at 4.6 million cases which is the equivalent of one new case every seven seconds! The pathophysiology of AD is complex and largely misunderstood. It is thought to start with the accumulation of beta-amyloid (Aβ) that leads to deposition of insoluble neuritic or senile plaques. Secondary events in this “amyloid cascade” include hyperphosphorylation of the protein tau into neurofibrillary tangles, inflammation, oxidation, and excitotoxicity that eventually cause activation of apoptotis, cell death and neurotransmitter deficits. This review will briefly summarize recent advances in the pathophysiology of AD and focus on the pharmacological treatment of the cognitive and functional symptoms of AD. It will discuss the roles of vascular prevention, cholinesterase inhibitors and an NMDA-antagonist in the management of AD. It will address the issues thought to be related to the lack of persistence or discontinuation of therapy with cholinesterase inhibitors shown in recent studies and some of the solutions proposed. These include setting realistic expectations in light of a neurodegenerative condition and available symptomatic treatments, slowly titrating medications, and using alternate routes of administration. Finally, it will introduce future therapeutic options currently under study.
Keywords: Dementia, Alzheimer's, therapy, pharmacological, cholinesterase inhibitor, amemantine
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