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Drug Treatments for Stroke-Related Dementia

Blood Clotting

Dementia is a somewhat loose description of a variety of symptoms that is predicated upon a slow loss of brain cells. Among the faculties that someone who suffers dementia will gradually lose are cognitive abilities like memory, reasoning skills and even changes in the personality. Although dementia is most often thought of as a condition that affects older people it can, in fact, onset at any age. Quite often it affects younger people as a result of other more common diseases such as Aids or as the result of a brain injury. Despite this, it is true that dementia affects the elderly overwhelmingly. In fact, more than 15% of those over the age of 65 will suffer at least some form of dementia. Once the age rises to 80 that figures skyrockets to 40%. Dementia is also notable for being sexist; more women than women will be affected. Not only does dementia seem to be sexist, it also appears to be somewhat racist; African Americans and Hispanics are at a higher risk for developing dementia than are Caucasians. Unbelievably, at least half of all patients currently in a nursing home in America suffer from a form of dementia.

At present there happen to be a variety of drug treatments available for patients suffering stroke-related dementia. Any medication administered to a patient suffering from dementia should be done so with extreme caution and in minimum doses in order to control side effects. Medication should also be supervised closely. Among the most promising medications for treated stroke-related dementia are those intended to treat some of the risk factors associated with vascular dementia in order to slow or prevent progression. One of the most common risk factors is blood clotting, therefore antiplatelet agents have been utilized in treatment. These drugs work by slightly altering the ways in which platelets function, working to thin the patients blood in an attempt to prevent future strokes. Among the more popular antiplatelet drugs used for this purpose are aspirin, Plavix (clopidogrel), Ticlid (ticlopidine), and Aggrenox. Also used for their promise in preventing the recurrence of a stroke are drugs designed to reduce the patient’s blood pressure.

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Other risk factors aside from blood clotting are also addressed by drug treatments for stroke. Medicines used to treat high cholesterol, diabetes and heart disease have also been utilized for treatment of stroke and dementia. Because high levels of cholesterol can contribute to the possibility of a stroke, this seems to make perfect sense. The major drugs on the market today that take advantage of this are Lipitor and Zocor. Many recent studies have increased the hope that cholesterol-lowering drugs will aid in the prevention of strokes.

And finally, antidepressant drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) have become a common method for treating not only mood disorders accompanying the onset of a stroke and dementia, but have even been shown to relieve some of the physical pain many patients suffer. In addition, these drugs also serve to improve certain mental functions and halt the decline in cognitive abilities that so often accompany strokes.