AstraZeneca Seroquel (quetiapine) anti-psychotic is effective in reducing agitation in elderly Alzheimer’s disease patients without leading to a decline in cognitive function, according to new data from the Anglo-Swedish company, which were presented at a psychiatry conference in the USA over the weekend.

The trial studied a sub-group of 260 Alzheimer’s disease patients from the company’s STAR trial, which examined elderly patients with dementia, who received either Seroquel 200mg/day, 100mg/day, or placebo. It found that 200mg/day of Seroquel was also generally well tolerated with no incidence of the cerebrovascular side effects that have been associated with the use of other atypical antipsychotics in this patient population. In a 30-day follow up, one cerebrovascular event was reported in the 100mg/day group.

Dementia is a term for various progressive brain disorders that result in a loss of brain function. Symptoms of dementia include memory loss, problems with reasoning, judgement and speech, and the inability to perform everyday tasks. Behavioural disturbances, including agitation, have been reported in up to 90% of patients with dementia, which can result in patients becoming distressed and aggressive, putting an immense strain on caregivers and affecting their ability to care for the individuals.