New Therapeutic Approaches to Cognitive Impairment

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Therapeutic approaches to the cognitive impairment of dementia are making their way into clinical practice. Clinical pharmacologic approaches toward improvement of cognitive symptoms are discussed, with an emphasis on cholinergic approaches, since they currently appear most promising and since several cholinesterase inhibitors may soon be available for prescribing. As more knowledge is gained about dosing, side effects, and mechanisms of action, these drugs can be prescribed more efficiently. Current research approaches to slowing the rate of cognitive decline are discussed, including the use of antioxidants, monoamine oxidase-B inhibitors, and cholinesterase inhibitors. Drugs that improve cognition may also have effects on behavioral symptoms, severe dementia, and non–Alzheimer’s dementia. Evidence suggests that some dementia patients may be particularly responsive to intervention and that other medications may enhance response. Psychosocial interventions may also contribute to prolonging the time to institutionalization

J Clin Psychiatry 1998;59(suppl 11):8–13