Antipsychotics 'could increase mortality risk'

Antipsychotic use in elderly people with Alzheimer's disease could increase the risk of mortality, according to UK research.

Photograph: iStockphoto/Dieter Hawlan
Photograph: iStockphoto/Dieter Hawlan

The findings, from researchers at Kings College London, back previous studies which have suggested that using antipsychotics could be dangerous.

In March 2004, the MHRA advised against the use of risperidone and olanzapine after they were found to increase the risk of stroke.

This latest study looked at 165 patients with Alzheimer’s who were randomly assigned to continue treatment with thioridazine, chlorpromazine, haloperidol, trifluoroperazine or risperidone for 12 months or to switch to placebo.

After 12 months, there was a 70% survival rate in the antipsychotic group compared with a 77% survival rate in the placebo group.

But after two years, survival rates dropped to just 46% for the antipsychotic group compared with 71% for the placebo group.

Overall, across the whole 4-year study period, the risk of death was 42% lower in the placebo group than in the antipsychotic group.

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