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How safe is memantine (Namenda) for people with dementia?

Sarah N. Mourra, MD
Neurology
Memantine (Namenda) is an N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) antagonist that is used to treat dementia. It works on a neurotransmitter in the brain called glutamate, on the hypothesis that dementia is a state of excitotoxicity (overstimulation) from an excitatory neurotransmitter like glutamate. Memantine works against that issue, essentially lowering glutamate levels and hopefully improving that potential toxicity.
 
The important thing to keep in mind with memantine is that it can cause some mood symptoms. It can also cause fatigue. It’s metabolized through the kidneys, so any impairment of the kidneys can lead to very high levels of memantine, and that can cause confusion and delirium. It also can increase the risk of seizures when it gets toxic, but this is very rare.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.