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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Aricept - Aricept and My bvFTD - Update 1

Aricept is not approved for bvFTD, but it seems to be helping me... A whole bunch!

Everything here is my account of what happened to me, or my interpretation of stuff. Every case of FTD is different. Keep in mind as you read this that the person who wrote this has dementia. That would be ME.
Medical Disclaimer.

This is a short update to the first post about my taking Aricept for bvFTD. I started taking Aricept 5 mg on September 13, 2010. I increased the dosage to 10 mg after about 6 weeks, and now on December 13, 2010 I increased the dosage to 23 mg. That was 7 days ago.

Initially when I first started taking it, I had some severe difficulties with the side effects of Aricept. Though I did not seem to have any adverse behavioral issues, I did have some gastrointestinal problems the most bothersome of which was heartburn. The insomnia was not too bad, but the itching was horrible, and almost caused me to discontinue taking the drug. I cannot express in words how severe the itching was - think poison ivy on top of mosquito bites... and add a few chiggers! Then multiply by two!

Finally! All of the nasty side effects have gone away. They lasted about 4 - 6 weeks, and were considerably more manageable near the end of that period. There may still be a little nausea and insomnia now and then, but that may have nothing to do with the Aricept because of some other medications I occasionally take which also can cause both nausea and insomnia. In any case it does not happen often, doesn't last more than a few minutes,  and is not severe.

With the approval of my neurologist I have increased the dosage again over the past week to see if I can tolerate the higher 23 mg dosage without having a return of the adverse side effects. So far it has only been a few days, so it is too early to say anything conclusive about that. If it is like when I first started taking Aricept 3 months ago then I would expect to have any side effects start to show up over the next 2 - 3 weeks. I am hopeful they will be short-lived if at all.

Though Aricept is not approved for treatment of bvFTD it seems to be helping me a lot with no adverse behavioral effects that are apparent to me.

Some beneficial changes in me that I and others have noted in the past 12 weeks since taking Aricept include: being able to do mental math again, not using a daily to-do list, quicker thinking and speech. Generally more like my "old self".

I don't really have too many ways to objectively evaluate any benefits. I can say that without a doubt I feel like my thinking is sharper, and my cognition has improved. Subjectively I think I have seen a huge improvement regarding my Dysexecutive Syndrome, and maybe a slight improvement in attention. My only objective test is that I can now add a couple numbers in my head, and do other mental math. As an example: I was at a store a couple days ago, and as I was being checked out I was adding the stuff up in my head as it was being tallied into the cash register. When the total was given, I was confident enough in my math capability to question it because it was about $22 higher than what I had added it up to be. I was right! I had been double charged for a bag of a hundred wine corks!

I could not have done that a year ago! So, in my opinion, Aricept is helping. I am also taking a couple of herbal supplements as well, specifically Ginkgo and Melatonin. I strongly believe that the combination of the Ginkgo and the Aricept is having a huge impact. The two have been shown to interact in numerous studies, and as soon as I started taking the Ginkgo Biloba I noticed an increase in the effects of the Aricept. Maybe it is a coincidence... if you believe in that sort of thing. I will post more on this soon.

All of that is just a bonus. I am not taking Aricept to improve my FTD symptoms. My purpose in taking it is to slow or stop the progression of my bvFTD. If I can gain even a couple years any nasty side-effects (except the itching!) would be well worth it. Unfortunately there is no way I can think of to objectively measure if it is working to slow the progression or not. Only time will tell.

So, for now I am going to continue taking the Aricept, and also continue to explore the options of Alternative Medicine.

Comments are welcome

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