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February 1979

Vasodilators in Senile Dementias: A Review of the Literature

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford (Calif) University School of Medicine, and the Palo Alto (Calif) Veterans Administration Hospital.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1979;36(2):220-223. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1979.01780020110012

• The rationale for the use of vasodilators in the aged has changed from the attempt to increase cerebral blood flow to the attempt to improve cerebral metabolism. Review of 102 studies of eight vasodilators showed that significantly more controlled studies claimed practical clinical benefit from drugs supposed to improve neuronal intermediary metabolism with secondary vasodilatation than from drugs supposed to have only vasodilator action (P <.005). Studies of both classes of drugs often suffered from poor study design, inappropriate and inconsistent application of outcome measurements, as well as negative bias due to selection of severely demented subjects. Future studies should be placebo-controlled investigations of drugs with primarily metabolic action, address questions of dose and time response, consistently use appropriate outcome measurement, and concentrate on the elderly in whom cognitive improvement is possible.

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