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General Health : Drug News Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011 - 9:38:09 AM

Anti-psychotic drugs double death risk in Alzheimer's patients
By Sue Mueller
Jan 9, 2009 - 9:29:53 AM

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Jan 09, 2009 ( -- A study published Friday in the medical journal Lancet Neurology showed that patients with Alzheimer's disease when treated with antipsychotic drugs were twice as likely to die as those who did not receive treatment within a few years.


Lead author, Clive Ballard of the Wolfson Centre for Age-Related Diseases at King's College London was quoted as saying that "for the vast majority of Alzheimer's patients, taking these drugs is probably not a worthwhile risk."


Ballard said cited by the Associatedpress that he would not venture to double his risk of dying just because they can slightly reduce the aggression of the disease.


For the study, Ballard and colleagues followed 165 patients aged 67 to 100 years with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s between 2001 and 2004 in Britain.   Half patients took anti-psychotic drugs including Risperdal, Thorazine and Stelazine and the other half used placebos.


After two years, the researchers found that 46 percent of Alzheimer's patients on anti-psychotic drugs were alive compared to 71 percent on placebos. The majority of deaths during the study were from pneumonia.


In the United Kingdom and the United States, it is advised that doctors give anti-psychotic drugs to Alzheimer’s patients cautiously and temporarily. But in Europe and North America, up to 60 percent of the patients receive the drugs for one or two years.


It is uncertain how the drugs affect Alzheimer's patients.  Some experts according to theAP believe that the drugs could damage the brain and affect the patients’ ability to exercise leading to high risk of deadly infections.  

Alzheimer's disease, resulting from abnormal aging, is fetal and has no cure.   Doctors do not know what causes the disease and how to prevent it.

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