Antipsychotic Drugs Triple Health Risks in Elderly

Dementia research finds even brief use is dangerous
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 27, 2008 8:53 AM CDT
Bottles of anti-psychotic drug Zyprexa pictured at a Eli Lilly and Co facility in Plainfield, Ind., Friday, Jan. 11, 2008.    (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
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(Newser) – Elderly dementia patients given antipsychotic drugs, even briefly, are three times as likely to end up hospitalized or dead within a month, new research has found. The study looked at 40,000 elderly Canadians, half of them in nursing homes, and found that the drugs increased the risk of heart problems, pneumonia, and falls, Reuters reports.

"Of residents newly admitted to a nursing home, 17% are started on antipsychotic drugs within 100 days of their admission," often to control delirium, delusions, or aggressive behavior, noted one of the authors of the study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. "Antipsychotic drugs should be prescribed with caution even for short-term therapy."