The antipsychotic drug quetiapine, commonly used to treat agitation and other Alzheimer's symptoms in people living in nursing homes, greatly speeds up cognitive decline, according to a study.

The Study

Researchers tracked 93 dementia patients for six months. Some people were given quetiapine (Seroquel), some took a placebo and others were given another antipsychotic drug called rivastigmine (Exelon).

Patients who were given the placebo showed little change. But the people who took quetiapine had twice the rate of cognitive decline (memory and other higher brain functions) as those who took the placebo. People who took rivastigmine experienced little or no worsening of their symptoms.


This finding is important, the study authors note, because quetiapine has been considered a safe antipsychotic drug. The study suggests quetiapine is not a viable alternative to two other antipsychotic drugs used to treat agitation in people who have dementia—risperidone and olanzapine, which may increase stroke risk.

Exercise Helps Alzheimer's Patients

A diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease cuts a person's life expectancy in half. A new study of patients age 60 and older found that the median survival for those newly diagnosed with Alzheimer's was 4.2 years for men and 5.7 years for women. That's half of what someone about the same age who does not have Alzheimer's could be expected to live.

Implication: Alzheimer's patients should remain active through walking and various other types of exercise to reduce the risk for pneumonia, bone fractures and other life-threatening conditions.

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