Cognitive enhancers not effective for mild cognitive impairment

Residents who have mild cognitive impairment will not benefit from taking cognitive enhancers, according to new research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. The findings come at a time when residents and family members increasingly are requesting the drugs, thinking that they may delay the onset of dementia, the investigators say.

The scientists reviewed eight randomized trials and three companion reports comparing one of four drugs (donepezil, rivastigmine, galantamine or memantine) and placebo in people with mild cognitive impairment. Using one scale of cognition, they found short-term benefits to these drugs, but they saw no long-term positive effects after 1.5 years, and they saw no other benefits using a second cognition scale or measuring function, behavior or mortality. Additionally, those with mild cognitive impairment who took the drugs had substantially more nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and headaches than those who did not take them, the researchers said.

“Healthcare decision-makers may not wish to approve the use of these medications for mild cognitive impairment, because these drugs might not be effective and are likely associated with harm,” wrote co-author Sharon Straus, MD, of St. Michael’s Hospital and the University of Toronto.

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Topics: Alzheimer's/Dementia , Clinical