For years we have known that anti-psychotic medications can increase mortality risks in some patients with dementia, but a new study now suggests that the risks can drastically change depending on which anti-psychotic is taken. See the WSJ article here.
The study looked at some 75,000 nursing home patients with dementia, and compared mortality rates within 6 months of beginning an anti-psychotic medication. The study used risperidone (Risperdal) as a baseline since it was the most popular medication used in patients monitored.
The study results showed that patients taking haloperidol (Haldol) were twice as likely to suffer fatal incidence when compared to those taking risperidone, while those taking quetiapine (Seroquel) were significantly less likely to suffer fatal reactions when compared to those taking risperidone. There were no significant differences between the other types of anti-psychotics and risperidone.
The study, published in the British Medical Journal last week, sheds new light on a well-known problem and perhaps will have an impact on the way antipsychotics are used in elderly patients with dementia.
Although quetiapine appears to be a safer solution when looking at the study data, the drug doesn’t appear to be as effective in treating these types of patients.
Although antipsychotics have been proven to be dangerous and carry the FDA's infamous "black box" warning for potentially fatal reactions when used in the treatment of patients with dementia, the medications remain a popular and often last resort treatment method.