Prazosin for the treatment of behavioral symptoms in patients with Alzheimer disease with agitation and aggression.

VA Northwest Network Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center (MIRECC), Seattle, WA 98115, USA.
The American journal of geriatric psychiatry: official journal of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 3.35). 10/2009; 17(9):744-51. DOI: 10.1097/JGP.0b013e3181ab8c61
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Agitation/aggression in Alzheimer disease (AD) is a major cause of patient distress, caregiver burden, and institutionalization. Enhanced behavioral responsiveness to central nervous system norepinephrine (NE) release may contribute to the pathophysiology of agitation/aggression in AD. Prazosin, a nonsedating generic medication used for hypertension and benign prostatic hypertrophy, antagonizes NE effects at brain postsynaptic alpha-1 adrenoreceptors. This pilot study examined the efficacy and tolerability of prazosin for behavioral symptoms in patients with agitation/aggression in AD.
Double-blind, placebo controlled, parallel group study.
A university AD center and a nursing home in Seattle, WA.
Twenty-two nursing home and community-dwelling participants with agitation/aggression and probable or possible AD (mean age: 80.6 +/- 11.2).
Randomization to placebo (N = 11) or prazosin (N = 11). Medication was initiated at 1 mg/day and increased up to 6 mg/day using a flexible dosing algorithm.
The Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS) and Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI) at Weeks 1, 2, 4, 6, and 8. The Clinical Global Impression of Change (CGIC) at Week 8.
Participants taking prazosin (mean dose: 5.7 +/- 0.9 mg/day) had greater improvements than those taking placebo (mean dose: 5.6 +/- 1.2 mg/day) on the NPI (mean change: -19 +/- 21 versus -2 +/- 15, chi = 6.32, df = 1, p = 0.012) and BPRS (mean change: -9 +/- 9 versus -3 +/- 5, chi = 4.42, df = 1, p = 0.036) based on linear mixed effects models and the CGIC (mean: 2.6 +/- 1.0 versus 4.5 +/- 1.6, z = 2.57, p = 0.011 [Mann-Whitney test]). Adverse effects and blood pressure changes were similar between prazosin and placebo groups.
Prazosin was well tolerated and improved behavioral symptoms in patients with agitation/aggression in AD.

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