Antipsychotics raise risk of pneumonia in residents with Alzheimer’s

New research is showing one more reason to reduce unnecessary use of antipsychotics in those with dementia: An increased risk of pneumonia.

In a nationwide cohort study conducted by the University of Eastern Finland reviewed the records of 60,500 Finnish people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and tracked those who developed pneumonia within one year of taking an antipsychotic.

Those with Alzheimer’s who took antipsychotic medications (the study showed no significant difference among the three most commonly prescribed antipsychotics—quetiapine, risperidone and haloperidol) were twice as likely to develop pneumonia. Risk were highest at the beginning of the medication course

“The study only included cases of pneumonia leading to hospitalisation or death, which means that the actual risk increase may be even higher,” noted the university’s announcement of the findings. “Consequently, the risk-benefit balance should be carefully considered when antipsychotics are prescribed, and the treatment period should be as short as clinically possible.”

Topics: Alzheimer's/Dementia , Clinical