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Simple painkillers 'can help dementia patients'

Research claims that drugs like paracetamol reduces agitation in patients – and could be substitute for antipsychotic meds.

A SCIENTIFIC TRIAL on a group of people suffering dementia in Norway has found that “agitation” was “significantly reduced” in those given simple painkillers.

The drugs – including paracetamol – were administered daily over eight weeks, according to the report published in the British Medical Journal. The clinical trial took place across 18 nursing homes in western Norway from October 2009 to June 2010. The report says that 35 million people suffer from dementia worldwide – and that number is expected to increase to 115 million by 2050. Agitation, it says, is “one of the most challenging symptoms” of the illness and antipsychotic drugs are most often used to treat it – even though it can lead to strokes.

The study aimed to find out if agitation and aggression could be treated with drugs which have fewer, and less serious, side-effects. This table, from the study, show the noticeable reduction in agitation in patients who were treated with the painkilllers (the red line), versus those who weren’t (the control group, in blue):

[caption id="attachment_179796" align="alignnone" width="466" caption="Via The British Medical Journal,"][/caption]

The results show, according to the authors of the report, that there was a 17 per cent reduction in agitation in those who were given the painkillers.

Professor Clive Ballard, one of the five authors, told the BBC that:

I think this could make a substantial difference to people’s lives – it could help them live much better with dementia.

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