The Right Dose of Speech Therapy

Aricept dosing improves language functioning in Alzheimers patients

(RxWiki News) Alzheimer's patients want to feel assured that their medication regimen is protecting them not only from memory loss but from the loss of other functions such as speech. Research finds that medication dosing may be key to preserving language abilities.

A new study has compared how well Alzheimer's patients maintain their language abilities on two different doses of popular drug Aricept (donepezil). The study concluded that the higher dose of 23 mg per day treated symptoms significantly better than the lower dose of 10 mg per day.

"Ask your neurologist what lifestyle changes might slow the disease."

Steven Ferris, Ph.D. is the director of the Aging and Dementia Research Center at New York University Langone Medical Center. He and his team have conducted an analysis comparing how well Aricept treats Alzheimer's-related language loss at two different doses.

Dr. Ferris used information from a large prior study of 1,467 cases of moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease.

In the original study, patients who had been at 10 mg of Aricept per day were randomly assigned to either remain at that dosage or be moved to a higher dose of 23 mg per day.

Researchers analyzed the results from the large study and sought to determine whether patients on one dose had fared better than the other in terms of their language abilities over 24 weeks.

Patients who had been taking the 23 mg of Aricept daily experienced improved language functioning. On the other hand, patients on the 10 mg regimen continued to lose language functioning.

A sub–set of the study involving patients who were the most severely affected with language deficits had similar findings. The Aricept 23 mg per day regimen improved language functioning, while the 10 mg per day regimen did not.

While the study does not mean that everyone taking Aricept for Alzheimer's disease should necessarily take 23 mg per day, this analysis establishes a reasonably strong link between this higher dose and improvement in patients' ability to communicate verbally. 

In the case of Alzheimer's disease, optimizing a patient's drug regimen as soon as possible is important so that loss of function can be slowed and held to a minimum.

One of the primary features of cognitive decline in patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease is loss of language. Language is critical to Alzheimer's patients for numerous social and emotional health-related reasons. It is also important that patients be able to communicate their needs to caregivers.

This study was published in the journal Alzheimer's Research and Therapy.

Review Date: 
December 20, 2011