A systematic review of assessment and treatment of moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease

Frederick A. Schmitt, Christine H. Wichems

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Objective: The systematic, large-scale study of therapies for moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a relatively recent advancement in the field. This review describes for the general practitioner the characterization of moderate to severe AD, discusses the development of metrics sensitive to the constellation of symptoms in these patients, and critically evaluates the use of those measures in moderate to severe AD clinical trials. Data Sources: Published clinical trials obtained by MEDLINE searches used the following key words: moderate AD, severe AD, donepezil, rivastigmine, galantamine, memantine, and antidementia agents. Clinical trials were limited by language (English), study type (clinical trial), and publication dates (1990-2005). Study Selection: Nine clinical trials comprise the studies conducted to date in moderate to severe AD and include 5 prospective randomized clinical trials (3 for memantine, 2 for donepezil) and 4 retrospective subanalyses (2 for galantamine, 2 for rivastigmine) of primary datasets. Data Extraction: Clinical trials are summarized and major findings are reviewed. Data Synthesis: The data reviewed support the decision to initiate and maintain treatment in moderate to severe AD patients. Conclusions: The development and implementation of improved metrics for moderate to severe AD patients has revealed that meaningful benefits are attainable in this patient population by treatment with the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonist memantine. Evidence also indicates a benefit from cholinesterase inhibitor treatment, although further study of these agents in this patient population is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-169
Number of pages12
JournalPrimary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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