Antipsychotic drugs seen increasing risk of death among some older adults

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted June 25, 2007

Print  |   Email  |   Respond  |   Reprints  |   Like Facebook  |   Share Twitter  |   Tweet Linkedin

Those older than 65 who are prescribed antipsychotics to control disruptive behavior associated with dementia are more likely to die than are those in a similar state of health who do not take these drugs. This risk is even higher when older versions of the medications are used, according to a study in the June 5 Annals of Internal Medicine.

Researchers analyzed data from four administrative health care databases that included information on more than 27,000 seniors diagnosed with dementia from April 1, 1997, through March 31, 2002. The risk of death associated with the use of these drugs was increased by 30% in the first month of use by elders living in the community. The risk went up 55% among those who were in long-term care. This phenomenon persisted for up to six months.

"The clinical message is that even short-term use of these drugs can be associated with an increased risk of death, so physicians need to carefully weigh potential risks and benefits of using these drugs to manage symptoms of dementia and need to reassess their use soon after they're initiated to see if they can be safely discontinued," said Dr. Sudeep Gill, a geriatrician and assistant professor of medicine at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario.

The Food and Drug Administration and Health Canada issued warnings in 2005 about the use of these drugs in this population.

Note: This item originally appeared at

Back to top



Read story

Confronting bias against obese patients

Medical educators are starting to raise awareness about how weight-related stigma can impair patient-physician communication and the treatment of obesity. Read story

Read story


American Medical News is ceasing publication after 55 years of serving physicians by keeping them informed of their rapidly changing profession. Read story

Read story

Policing medical practice employees after work

Doctors can try to regulate staff actions outside the office, but they must watch what they try to stamp out and how they do it. Read story

Read story

Diabetes prevention: Set on a course for lifestyle change

The YMCA's evidence-based program is helping prediabetic patients eat right, get active and lose weight. Read story

Read story

Medicaid's muddled preventive care picture

The health system reform law promises no-cost coverage of a lengthy list of screenings and other prevention services, but some beneficiaries still might miss out. Read story

Read story

How to get tax breaks for your medical practice

Federal, state and local governments offer doctors incentives because practices are recognized as economic engines. But physicians must know how and where to find them. Read story

Read story

Advance pay ACOs: A down payment on Medicare's future

Accountable care organizations that pay doctors up-front bring practice improvements, but it's unclear yet if program actuaries will see a return on investment. Read story

Read story

Physician liability: Your team, your legal risk

When health care team members drop the ball, it's often doctors who end up in court. How can physicians improve such care and avoid risks? Read story

  • Stay informed
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • RSS
  • LinkedIn