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Antipsychotics

Antipsychotic drugs double risk of deadly pneumonia

Friday, August 27, 2010 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: antipsychotics, pneumonia, health news


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(NaturalNews) Senior citizens who take antipsychotic drugs are twice as likely to contract pneumonia as seniors who do not take the drugs, according to a study conducted by researchers from Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

"Anti-psychotics are prescribed too frequently without doctors thinking about the consequences," said Steve Field, chair of the United Kingdom's Royal College of General Practitioners. "This paper yet again gives us evidence why we should not prescribe them unless absolutely necessary and if you do you should closely monitor the patient."

Researchers examined the health records of 1,944 residents of the Netherlands over the age of 65 who had been treated at one of more than 300 general practices. In the Netherlands, medical records include not only visits to a specific doctor, but visits to all doctors, hospitals and outpatient clinics.

The researchers found that patients taking antipsychotic drugs were twice as likely to contract pneumonia as those who did not take the drugs. The pneumonia risk was highest during the first week of drug treatment.

The relationship between antipsychotic use and pneumonia was strong in users of both typical and atypical antipsychotics, although the risk from the newer (atypical) drugs was slightly lower.

The use of antipsychotic drugs in elderly patients has become an issue of growing concern. Although the drugs are designed for the treatment of disorders such as schizophrenia, they have become increasingly popular for unapproved use on patients suffering from dementia. Yet recent studies have shown that elderly dementia patients who take the drugs are significantly more likely to die from heart attacks, strokes and pneumonia than patients who do not take them.

Of the patients in the current study taking antipsychotics, only 5 percent had been prescribed the drugs for schizophrenia. The vast majority had been given the drugs in response to dementia-linked behavioral or psychological disorders.

Sources for this story include:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8599443.st....

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