Long-Term Antipsychotic Use Common in Alzheimer's Patients
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Patients with Alzheimer’s disease receive antipsychotics more frequently than others in the general population.
Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland analyzed data of 7,217 Finnish patients with Alzheimer’s disease. They looked at antipsychotic use eight years before and four years after diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.
Antipsychotic use in those with Alzheimer’s was five times higher than in a control group without the neurocognitive disorder, the researchers reported in the British Journal of Psychiatry. Antipsychotics were most commonly started six months after the initial diagnosis in Alzheimer’s patients, though antipsychotic use was also high later on.
A prior study found that a majority (57%) of those with Alzheimer’s who take antipsychotics continue treatment over the long-term, meaning over a year. However, Finnish Current Care Guidelines say that for the treatment of memory disorders, antipsychotics should only be used as a short-term treatment for severe psychotic symptoms, agitation and aggression.
The incidence of antipsychotic use in the Alzheimer’s population “is a cause of concern, because the use of antipsychotics increases the risk of severe adverse incidents such as stroke, falling and fracture, and death,” Sirpa Hartikainen, MD, PhD, of the University of Eastern Finland, said in a statement.
Guidelines, however, say that antipsychotics should only be used short term for severe psychotic symptoms and agitation.
Antipsychotic drugs are initiated in patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) more frequently than in the general population — already 2-3 years before the Alzheimer's diagnosis, according to a new study from the University of Eastern Finland. Most commonly, antipsychotics were initiated during the six months following the Alzheimer's diagnosis; however, the incidence of new antipsychotic users was high also later on. The results were published in British Journal of Psychiatry.
The study analyzed the incidence of antipsychotic use eight years before and four years after the Alzheimer's diagnosis. During the follow-up, one third of the persons with Alzheimer's disease initiated antipsychotics. The incidence of antipsychotic use in persons with Alzheimer's disease was five times more common than in the control group not diagnosed with AD.
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