A number of studies have shown that antipsychotics raise the risk of death in patients with dementia, but a new, large study suggests that the risk differs substantially depending on the drug.
The study, published online Thursday in the British Medical Journal, examined some 75,000 nursing home patients with dementia for risk of death within six months of their beginning to take an antipsychotic drug, including haloperidol, quetiapine and risperidone.
The results showed that patients who used haloperidol showed a doubling in their risk of mortality compared to those who got risperidone, while quetiapine users were significantly less likely to die compared to risperidone users. There weren’t significant differences between other types of antipsychotics and risperidone. (Risperidone was used for comparison because it was the most widely prescribed antipsychotic in the study population.)
Antipsychotics are regularly used for dementia patients with agitation or disruptive behaviors, though the FDA issued several years ago a black-box warning describing the increased risk of death for this patient population.
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Not All Antipsychotics are the Same, Study