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How are we doing with the treatment of essential tremor (ET)? persistence of patients with ET on medication : data from 528 patients in three settings

Louis, Elan D.; Rios, Eileen; Henchcliffe, Claire

Background: The pharmacological treatment of essential tremor (ET) is not optimal. There are only two first-line medications and troublesome side effects are common. It is not uncommon for patients to simply stop taking medication. Yet, no published data substantiate or quantify this anecdotal impression. Objectives: To determine, amongst patients with ET who were prescribed medication for tremor, what proportion are still taking medication and what proportion have stopped? Methods: Five hundred and twenty-eight patients with ET from three distinct study settings (clinical, brain donors, population) were interviewed. Results: A clear pattern that emerged across settings was that the proportion of patients with ET who had stopped medication was sizable and consistently similar (nearly one-third): 31.4% (clinical), 24.3% (brain donors), 30.0% (population), 29.8% (overall). A similarly high proportion of cases with severe tremor had stopped their medication: 31.9% (clinical), 36.4% (brain donors). For the four most commonly used medications (propranolol, primidone, diazepam, topiramate), one-half or more of the treated patients had stopped the medication; amongst the less commonly used medications, the proportion who stopped was even higher. Conclusions: Nearly one of every three patients with ET who had been prescribed medication for tremor had discontinued pharmacotherapy. Even more revealing was that a similar proportion of cases with severe tremor had stopped medication. These data make tangibly evident that there is a sizable population of patients with ET who are untreated and disabled, and underscore the inadequacy of current pharmacotherapeutic options for this common neurological disease.



Also Published In

European Journal of Neurology

More About This Work

Academic Units
Center for Parkinson's Disease and Other Movement Disorders
Published Here
July 31, 2012