THURSDAY, May 3 (HealthDay News) -- A new study finds that antipsychotic drugs can help many people with schizophrenia, cutting patients' risk of relapse by 60 percent.
The study, involving data stretching back 50 years, also found that schizophrenia patients who take antipsychotics are much less likely to be hospitalized and may behave less aggressively and have a better quality of life than patients who don't take the drugs.
One expert said the finding mirrors what he and other professionals have experienced.
The data "is consistent with what we see in clinical practice -- that we are very well able to keep our patients functioning better and out of the hospital when they consistently take these medications," said Dr. Roberto Estrada, attending psychiatrist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
The findings are published in the May 3 online edition of The Lancet.
In the study, German researchers combed through findings from 65 clinical trials reported in 116 articles published between 1959 and 2011. The trials included nearly 6,500 patients with schizophrenia.
After one year, relapse rates were 27 percent among patients who took antipsychotic drugs and 64 percent among those who took an inactive placebo, the review found. Rates of hospital readmission were 10 percent for patients who took antipsychotics and 26 percent for those who took a placebo.
Evidence from five studies indicated that patients who took antipsychotic drugs behaved less aggressively, and findings from three studies suggested that they have a better quality of life.
Antipsychotic drugs are the main type of treatment for people with schizophrenia, but they can cause serious side effects. Indeed, the investigators found that patients who took antipsychotic drugs had more negative side effects than those who took a placebo, including movement disorders (16 percent versus 9 percent), sedation (13 percent versus 9 p
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