About Alzheimer's Disease
Alzheimer's disease: diagnosis & treatment
Diagnostic tests & tools
Alzheimer's disease often goes unrecognized or undiagnosed in the early stages because the first symptoms are often viewed as normal parts of aging. To diagnose Alzheimer's disease, doctors use a series of tests and tools to evaluate thinking, behavior and physical function because there is no single scale that can, by itself, definitively diagnose Alzheimer's disease.
Diagnostic tests may include the Clock Drawing test, the Mini-Mental Stage Examination (MMSE), and the Functional Assessment Staging test (FAST). In addition to these tests, the doctor may also take a medical and family history, do a routine physical exam, an exam that tests physical sensation controlled by the central nervous system, a brain scan, a neuropsychological evaluation, and interview family members and friends.
Two types of Alzheimer's disease treatment
Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer's disease. However, there are two types of treatments used to manage Alzheimer's disease. They both work differently in the brain.
Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors work by helping to increase the amount of acetylcholine in the brain, a chemical that is important for memory and learning.
- ARICEPT* (donepezil HCl), approved to treat all stages of Alzheimer's disease
- EXELON** (rivastigmine tartrate), approved to treat mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease
- EXELON PATCH (rivastigmine transdermal system), approved to treat mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease
- RAZADYNE*** (galantamine HBr), approved to treat mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease
Glutamate pathway modifiers (NAMENDA) work differently than the acetylcholinesterase inhibitors. Glutamate is another chemical in the brain that is important for learning and memory.
- NAMENDA is currently the only drug of its type approved to treat moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease.
NAMENDA and ARICEPT (donepezil HCI 5-10 mg) work in different ways; taking them together may be beneficial. Learn about how combination therapy works.
If your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and has progressed to the moderate or severe stage, he or she might benefit from combination therapy with NAMENDA (memantine HCl) and ARICEPT. Keep in mind that sometimes a person who has been recently diagnosed may already be in the moderate stage of Alzheimer's disease. Learn more about how combination therapy works and how it may benefit your loved one.
There is no evidence that NAMENDA or donepezil prevents or slows the underlying disease process in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.