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Antipsychotics Up Death Risk in Alzheimer's Patients
Date:1/9/2009

o, the researchers found.

The findings were published online Jan. 8 in The Lancet Neurology.

Despite the findings, Doraiswamy said there's still a place for antipsychotics in some people with dementia. "If there is no other way to stop an Alzheimer's patient from acting dangerously and all other measures have failed, then antipsychotics can be used as a measure of last resort, but only for the shortest possible time at the lowest possible dose," he said.

The study authors agreed.

"Our opinion is that there is still an important but limited place for atypical antipsychotics in the treatment of severe neuropsychiatric manifestations of Alzheimer's disease, particularly aggression," the researchers wrote. "However, the accumulating safety concerns, including the substantial increase in long-term mortality, emphasize the urgent need to put an end to unnecessary and prolonged prescribing."

William Thies, chief medical officer at the Alzheimer's Association, said his group suggests that "non-pharmacological treatments" may be as effective as the antipsychotic drugs and should be considered first.

"Non-pharmacological treatments are things like changing the environment of the patient, changing the way the patient is addressed, and eliminating certain triggering events that may cause deteriorations in patient behavior," he said.

More information

For more on Alzheimer's disease, visit the Alzheimer's Association.

What You Need to Know About Antipsychotics

"Families need to be on the lookout and question their doctor closely if he or she recommends an antipsychotic for Alzheimer's," said Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, chief of the biological psychiatry division at Duke University.

He said families ne
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