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Alzheimer Dis Assoc Disord. 1995 Winter;9(4):233-7.

Low-dose propranolol reduces aggression and agitation resembling that associated with orbitofrontal dysfunction in elderly demented patients.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, University of California-Irvine, U.S.A.


Although several reports suggest that intermediate to high doses of propranolol (80-160 and 200-600 mg/day) can effectively treat aggressive behavior in dementia, significant side effects can occur at these doses. To minimize these side effects, we treated and followed-up a series of 12 demented patients, whose caregivers sought medical help for their disruptive, aggressive behavior, with low-dose propranolol monotherapy (10-80 mg/day). Assessment measures obtained at baseline and during treatment by caregiver interview included ordinal ratings of aggression severity, the Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory (CMAI), and the California Behavior Questionnaire (CBQ). The aggression ratings showed that low-dose propranolol effectively reduced aggression in eight of 12 patients (67%) within 2 weeks of treatment and remained effective for the duration of follow-up (1 to 14 months). Subscales of the CMAI showed responders to have significant reductions in physical and verbal aggression/agitation and in pacing/wandering. These results suggest that low-dose propranolol should be further studied for treating aggression or agitation in demented patients.

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