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Another Study Finds Risks with Antipsychotics in Elderly Dementia Patients

Filed March 29th, 2012 Laurie

Older adults with dementia who take antipsychotic medications have a higher risk of heart attack, according to a new study. The drugs are commonly prescribed to the elderly to help combat symptoms like agitation, aggression, and hallucinations. Previous studies found that antipsychotics may also be linked to an increased risk of stroke and death from all causes.

The study looked at nearly 11,000 patients, aged 66 and older in Quebec, Canada who were being treated with cholinesterase inhibitors for dementia and were also prescribed antipsychotics. A year into their treatment, 1.3 percent of the patients suffered a heart attack. Compared to those not taking antipsychotics, the risk of heart attack among those taking them was 2.19 times higher for the first 30 days, 1.62 times higher for the first 60 days, 1.36 times higher for the first 90 days, and 1.15 times higher for the first year.

More research is needed to determine why the use of antipsychotics may lead to dementia in older people. In the meantime, researchers suggest that doctors limit subscribing such drugs to patients with dementia and user other available techniques.

Though a relationship was found between antipsychotic drugs and older dementia patients, the study did not establish a cause and effect relationship.

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