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Vitamin E may slow Alzheimer's progression

03 January, 2014

ISLAMABAD: Scientists have for the first time found that Vitamin E may slow functional decline - problems with everyday tasks such as shopping, cooking and travelling - in patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's.

Researchers from the faculty of Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in US found that vitamin E delays progression of functional decline in patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease by 19 per cent per year.

The finding is valuable because vitamin E is easy to purchase at local drugstores and it is also inexpensive, researchers said.

The Veteran's Administration Cooperative Randomised Trial, one of the largest and longest treatment trials in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease, examined the effects of vitamin E, a dementia medicine - memantine - combination of both, or placebo on Alzheimer's patients.

A group of 613 patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease were in the study, which was launched in August 2007 and finished in September 2012 at 14 Veterans Affairs Medical Centers.

Over the average follow-up time of 2.3 years, participants receiving vitamin E had slower functional decline than those receiving placebo, with the annual rate of decline in activities of daily living reduced by 19 per cent.

This treatment effect translates into a clinically meaningful delay in progression in the vitamin E group of 6.2 months. Neither memantine nor the combination of vitamin E and memantine showed clinical benefit in the trial.

"Since the cholinesterase inhibitors [galantamine, donepezil, rivastigmine], we have had very little to offer patients with mild-to-moderate dementia," said Mary Sano, trial co-investigator, and professor in the department of psychiatry, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

"This trial showed that vitamin E delays progression of functional decline by 19 per cent per year, which translates into 6.2 months benefit over placebo," Sano said.

Sano previously led a study on vitamin E in patients with moderately severe Alzheimer's disease. She found that the vitamin slowed disease progression in this group of patients as well.

"This study is the first to show an added benefit for vitamin E in mild-to-moderate disease," said Kenneth Davis, Chief Executive Officer and President of the Mount Sinai Health System and Gustave L Levy Distinguished Professor.

"Now that we have a strong clinical trial showing that vitamin E slows functional decline and reduces the burdens on caregivers, vitamin E should be offered to patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease," Davis said.

The study is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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