Patrick Holford’s May E-Newsletter arrived yesterday. It’s not online yet, as far as I can see – so those poor readers who missed out on the e-mail will have to content themselves with me quoting the e-mail here.
Holford looks at Alzheimer’s disease, arguing that
Medication Prescribed to Alzheimer’s Patients may hasten their decline
In a study of 224 people with Alzheimer’s Disease who were living in the community, those who were taking antipsychotic drugs or sedatives had an almost three-fold higher risk of deterioration than those who were taking none. Even worse, for those taking both antipsychotic and sedative drugs together, their risk of deterioration was almost quadrupled.
This is partly right – but misses out some crucial information and could be extremely misleading.
The study in question actually finds that
Patients who were taking antipsychotic drugs and sedatives had a significantly higher risk of deterioration than those who were taking none…Higher risk of deterioration was observed in those who were taking both antipsychotic and sedative drugs together…Patients taking drugs licensed for dementia, drugs affecting the renin –angiotensin system and statins had a significantly lower risk of deterioration than those who were not taking any of these drugs
In other words, some drugs make deterioration more likely, some drugs appear to bring a lower risk of deterioration. This means that one should be more cautious about prescribing some drugs to Alzheimer’s patients, but the study provides evidence of the potential benefits of some other drugs. When making decisions about serious illnesses like Alzheimer’s, it’s very important to have all the information – and not to rely on the type of very partial summary of the information offered by Holford.