Clinical trial hopes to lessen Alzheimer’s symptom

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – A Lexington clinical trial is helping improve Alzheimer’s patients’ quality of life. According to the Sanders-Brown Center of Aging, the trial started at the University of Washington where it saw great results, leading to the trial becoming national.

Dr. Greg Jicha is the director of clinical trials at the University of Kentucky’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center in the Sanders-Brown Center of Aging. He says the trial has been underway for over 2 years, but was heavily slowed in 2020 because of the pandemic.

The trial at UK is trying to make life easier for caregivers and patients by using a FDA-approved blood pressure medication, prazosin, to alleviate agitation in Alzheimer’s patients. Dr. Jicha says his team is testing to see whether the medicine will alleviate behavioral and psychiatric symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, known as BPSD. Dr. Jicha says it’s BPSD symptoms, not memory loss, that make up over 50% of caregivers’ burden.

Kathleen Richardson has been a caregiver for her mom, Ruth Erskine, for 8 years. It’s difficult, not just to see her mom deteriorate, but also to deal with symptoms day to day, like struggling to get her mom to sleep.

“It is one of those ongoing issues in caregiving,” says Richardson. “Just in getting through the day and making sure the person you’re caring for is comfortable.”

Kathleen says if the medication works, it would greatly improve day-to-day activities, as sometimes emotional outbursts can lead to destructive behaviors that could harm not only the caregiver, but the patient, too.

“Anything that will calm some portion of it, even if not all of it, is very helpful,” says Richardson. “It makes the day more normal, let’s say.”

For more information or to ask questions about the study, call the research coordinator, Maranda Brooks, at (859)323-4547.

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