↑ Return to Disease State Management

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a disease that causes problems with memory, thought, and behavior. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. Dementia is a term that describes general problems with intellectual abilities that interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s accounts for up to 80% of all dementia patients. There are over 5.4 million
Americans currently living with Alzheimer’s, and it cost about $200 billion dollars a year to care for them.

Scientific researchers are still unsure of what causes Alzheimer’s but much of the research points to two abnormal protein structures; beta-amyloid plaques, and tau proteins. Scientists believe these abnormalities cause decreased communication between brain cells and overtime can lead to cell death.

  • Beta-amyloid plaques – Are protein fragments that clog the spaces between nerve cells
  • Tau proteins – Are twisted proteins that build up inside the cell

The Alzheimer’s Association defines seven specific stages to measure the severity of a patient’s condition, ranging from little to no impairment, to a very severe decline in cognitive function.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s:

  • Emotional behavior or personality changes
  • Having problems with language
  • Memory lapses
  • Thinking and judgment issues

A verbal mental status examination can help guide your healthcare professional to a diagnosis.

Alzheimer’s is not curable, but there are drug treatments that can temporarily slow the progression of the disease and encourage positive outcomes. The drugs that are approved for Alzheimer’s include:

  • Aricept (donepezil oral tablet) – available generically in 5mg and 10mg once daily dosing for mild to moderate Alzheimer’s, available in Brand name only for 23mg indicated for the treatment of moderate to severe Alzheimer’s
  • Exelon (rivastigmine transdermal) – transdermal patch replaced every 24 hours
  • Namenda (memantine HCI oral tablet) – oral tablet dosed twice daily
  • Razadyne (galantamine oral tablets/capsules) – oral tablet dosed twice daily or extended release oral capsule dosed once daily, available generically

Because the drugs work differently, they are often prescribed together in what is known as combination therapy to achieve the best outcome for the patient.

For more information on Alzheimer’s, visit

Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s

In about 40 years, the number of older Americans with Alzheimer’s disease—a form of dementia—is likely to triple to nearly 14 million people.1 That’s why the U.S. government is funding extensive trials to try to get a handle on the disease—especially at its earlier stages.2 In the meantime, spotting the signs of Alzheimer’s in a …

View page »