ISSN ONLINE: 2558-815X
ISSN PRINT: 1584-9244
ISSN-L: 1584-9244

Agitation relief in patients with Alzheimer disease: a combined approach of acupressure and cholinesterase inhibitors


Introduction. Agitation is a common symptom in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The traditional therapeutic technique of acupressure can be applied to improve the symptoms.
The objectives of this study were to evaluate the efficacy and safety of acupressure and donepezil for the treatment of agitation in patients with AD in comparison with donepezil plus risperidone.
Materials and methods. This randomized controlled trial was conducted in a hospital in Vietnam and enrolled willing participants who met the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) diagnostic criteria for AD and presented with agitation symptoms between May 2020 and March 2022. Participants in each group were randomly assigned to receive acupressure plus donepezil or donepezil plus risperidone over 4 weeks.
Results. Of the 76 patients with AD presenting agitation symptoms who were randomized, 63 were included in the full analysis. After 4 weeks, the combined use of acupressure and anticholinesterase drugs significantly reduced agitation, as measured by the Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory (CMAI) scale, by 20.4% (p < 0.001). Similarly, it markedly alleviated the burden of caregiving, as measured by the Zarit Burden Interview (ZBI) scale, with a 14.7% reduction (p < 0.05). The intervention group did not significantly differ from the control group. No participant experienced severe adverse effects.
Conclusions. Our study showed that combining acupressure and the cholinesterase inhibitor donepezil effectively improved agitation symptoms and reduced caregiver burden in AD patients over a 4-week treatment period.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease, acupressure, agitation.

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Address for correspondence:
Minh Hoang LE
Faculty of Traditional Medicine, Can Tho University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Can Tho city, Vietnam


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Vo TT, Do TL, Pham HH, Duong DA, Le MH. Agitation relief in patients with Alzheimer’s disease: a combined approach of acupressure and cholinesterase inhibitors. Arch Balk Med Union. 2024;59(1):58-66.