Small Study: Antidepressant Could Help People With Alzheimer’s Control Agitation

HealthDay (2/19, Preidt) reported that antidepressant Celexa (citalopram hydrobromide) “shows promise in easing the agitation people with Alzheimer’s disease often suffer,” potentially offering “a safer alternative to antipsychotic drugs,” according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The new study, headed by Constantine Lyketsos, director of the Johns Hopkins Memory and Alzheimer’s Treatment Center in Baltimore, involved 186 Alzheimer’s patients “with agitation symptoms such as emotional distress, aggression, irritability, and excessive movement.”

MedPage Today (2/19, Smith) reported some safety concerns with the study noting the medicine “was associated with an increase in QT interval prolongation and a slight worsening of cognition,” citing the Feb. 19 issue of JAMA. Anton Porsteinsson, of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in New York, pointed out that when treating agitated Alzheimer’s patients clinicians should be “judicious,” and probably prescribe a dosage below 20 mg a day. In an accompanying editorial, Gary Small, MD, of the University of California Los Angeles, “argued that research is needed to determine the duration of adverse effects and benefits beyond the studied 9 weeks, dose ranges that influence mortality risk as well as QT prolongation, and predictors of response,” according to MedPage.

The news was also covered by Medscape (2/19) and the Rochester (NY) Democrat & Chronicle (2/18).

Related Links:

— “Antidepressant Celexa May Help Ease Alzheimer’s-Linked Agitation,” Robert Preidt, HealthDay, February 18, 2014.

Posted in In The News.