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Prazosin for the treatment of behavioral symptoms in patients with Alzheimer disease with agitation and aggression


Wang, Lucy Y., Shofer, Jane B., Rohde, Kirsten, Hart, Kim L., Hoff, David J., McFall, Yun H., Raskind, Murray A., Peskind, Elaine R.


The American Journal Of Geriatric Psychiatry: Official Journal Of The American Association For Geriatric Psychiatry, Volume: 17, No.: 9, Pages.: 744-751

Year of Publication



Objectives: Agitation/aggression in Alzheimer disease (AD) is a major cause of patient distress, caregiver burden, and institutionalization. Enhanced behavioral responsiveness to central nervous system norepinephrine (NE) release may contribute to the pathophysiology of agitation/aggression in AD. Prazosin, a nonsedating generic medication used for hypertension and benign prostatic hypertrophy, antagonizes NE effects at brain postsynaptic alpha-1 adrenoreceptors. This pilot study examined the efficacy and tolerability of prazosin for behavioral symptoms in patients with agitation/aggression in AD.; Design: Double-blind, placebo controlled, parallel group study.; Setting: A university AD center and a nursing home in Seattle, WA.; Participants: Twenty-two nursing home and community-dwelling participants with agitation/aggression and probable or possible AD (mean age: 80.6 +/- 11.2).; Intervention: Randomization to placebo (N = 11) or prazosin (N = 11). Medication was initiated at 1 mg/day and increased up to 6 mg/day using a flexible dosing algorithm.; Measurements: The Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS) and Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI) at Weeks 1, 2, 4, 6, and 8. The Clinical Global Impression of Change (CGIC) at Week 8.; Results: Participants taking prazosin (mean dose: 5.7 +/- 0.9 mg/day) had greater improvements than those taking placebo (mean dose: 5.6 +/- 1.2 mg/day) on the NPI (mean change: -19 +/- 21 versus -2 +/- 15, chi = 6.32, df = 1, p = 0.012) and BPRS (mean change: -9 +/- 9 versus -3 +/- 5, chi = 4.42, df = 1, p = 0.036) based on linear mixed effects models and the CGIC (mean: 2.6 +/- 1.0 versus 4.5 +/- 1.6, z = 2.57, p = 0.011 [Mann-Whitney test]). Adverse effects and blood pressure changes were similar between prazosin and placebo groups.; Conclusion: Prazosin was well tolerated and improved behavioral symptoms in patients with agitation/aggression in AD.;

Bibtex Citation

@article{Wang_2009, doi = {10.1097/jgp.0b013e3181ab8c61}, url = {}, year = 2009, month = {sep}, publisher = {Elsevier {BV}}, volume = {17}, number = {9}, pages = {744--751}, author = {Lucy Y. Wang and Jane B. Shofer and Kirsten Rohde and Kim L. Hart and David J. Hoff and Yun H. McFall and Murray A. Raskind and Elaine R. Peskind}, title = {Prazosin for the Treatment of Behavioral Symptoms in Patients With Alzheimer Disease With Agitation and Aggression}, journal = {The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry} }


adrenergic alphaantagonists, aged, aged, 80 and over, aggression, alzheimer disease, behavioral symptoms, brief psychiatric rating scale, diagnosis, double-blind method, drug administration schedule, drug effects, drug therapy, effects, female, humans, male, neuropsychological tests, physiopathology, pilot projects, prazosin, psychology, psychomotor agitation, side, statistics nonparametric, therapeutic use, treatment outcome, washington

Countries of Study


Types of Dementia

Alzheimer’s Disease

Types of Study

Randomised Controlled Trial

Type of Outcomes

Behaviour, Other


Hospital Outpatient Care, Nursing Homes

Type of Interventions

Pharmaceutical Interventions

Pharmaceutical Interventions