Have any of your loved ones with Alzheimer's had ECT- Electroconvulsive Therapy? - AgingCare.com

Have any of your loved ones with Alzheimer's had ECT- Electroconvulsive Therapy?

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ECT is a newer treatment for Alz patients with severe agitation, aggression, and depression. It is given in an inpatient hospital setting under general anesthesia.

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Having had ECT, I would advise against it. It destroys memory, and that is not what you want for your loved one. Agitation and depression can be helped with medication.
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ECT is a treatment for severe depression when no other alternative treatment has been successful. Alzheimer is a progressive disease. I see no practical use for such treatment for Alzheimer patients. What next, lobotomies?
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ECT for anyone with memory impairment is returned to barbaric practices.

This from Web.MD

Jan. 28, 2011 -- The
recommendations of an FDA
advisory panel could mean
new restrictions on
electroconvulsive therapy --a controversial treatment used by tens
of thousands of U.S. patients with
severe depression and other mental

The experts urged the FDA not to ease
restrictions on electroconvulsive
therapy (ECT) for many patients. The
agency is reviewing the safety of the
treatment and could now require
companies to prove to the government
that their products are safe.

Electroconvulsive therapy involves the
delivery of a series of electric shocks
through the scalp to the brain. As many
as 100,000 patients receive ECT each
year in the U.S., mostly for severe
depression or other disorders that do
not respond to medications.

ECT machines have escaped strict
scrutiny by the FDA largely because
they were already on the market when
the agency tightened rules three
decades ago. The treatment is widely
viewed as effective for patients who
have few other options. But concerns
over long-term safety have prompted
new attention from regulators.

ECT Side Effects

Of most concern to the FDA is the risk
of cognitive side effects, like memory
loss, especially after prolonged use of
ECT. While most experts agree that the
benefits of short-term ECT treatments
outweigh the risks for severely
depressed patients, few studies look at
the effects past six months, experts
said.

Members of the advisory panel on
Friday urged the FDA not to reclassify
ECT machines as generally safe for
patients with several disorders,
including schizophrenia and
schizophrenia-like disorders, bipolar
mania, and catatonia -- a mental state
in which patients sometimes are in a
stupor.

The panel split on whether the agency
should ease restrictions on ECT for
patients with severe depression. While
ECT was viewed as largely effective,
experts said they had little information
on how to make it safer.

“I think the data is lacking on how we
can better mitigate the risks,” said Jane
Paulsen, PhD, a neuropsychology
researcher at the University of Iowa.

If the FDA keeps its most restrictive
“Class III” designation for ECT,
companies would have to submit
applications showing their machines
are safe and effective. Those may be
outdated or may not exist at all for
many devices, prompting worries that
some machines could be forced off the
market.

ECT Side Effects continued...

Some experts worried that the need for
new data could hinder access to ECT
for severely ill patients who get no
relief from other treatments.

“There is no alternative to ECT” for
many patients with treatment-resistant
depression, warned Wayne K.
Goodman, MD, a professor of
psychiatry at Mt. Sinai School of
Medicine in New York. “I think it would
be a mistake to even take the risk of
leaving it as a Class III [device] and
letting it be removed from market."

New Warnings

Advisory panel members also urged
the agency to come up with new,
plainer warnings for patients and to
improve consent forms spelling out the
benefits and the risks. That can be a
complicated prospect, since mentally
ill patients who are candidates for ECT
may not be able to fully understand the
risks.

Hundreds of patients have complained
to the FDA that they were not informed
of the potential for memory loss,
cognitive impairments, and other
problems before they underwent ECT.

“They did not feel that they were
adequately informed,” said Malvina
Eydelman, director of the FDA’s
Division of Ophthalmic, Neurological,
and Ear Nose and Throat Devices.
“That certainly was an issue.”
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There is nothing new about shock therapy, it's been around since 1937. It works by destroying neuro-circuits and neutralizes aggression. There is a trade off, that being a loss of congnitive function. It will not repair any part of the brain. Post-treatment euphoria is possible, but the Alzheimer's will continue to progress. You will have to sign off an informed consent and have no recourse if the patient is left in a vegetative state.
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