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New research has confirmed previous preliminary findings that patients with dementia treated with antipsychotic drugs are at an increased risk of stroke.
Earlier studies found that atypical antipsychotic drugs can increase the risk of stroke, but until now the risk associated with typical antipsychotics was not known.
In 2004, although there was no clear evidence at the time, the UK’s Committee on Safety of Medicines recommended that these drugs should not be used in people with dementia.
The new research, at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, was based on clinical information of more than six million patients in the UK.
The findings showed that when patients were taking antipsychotic medication they were 1.7 times more likely to have a stroke. In people with dementia this figure more than doubled – to 3.5.
The study also found that the likelihood of having a stroke was slightly higher for people taking atypical antipsychotics than people taking typical antipsychotics.
Commenting on the findings, the Alzheimer’s Society said: “The overprescription of antipsychotics is a serious breach of human rights. These drugs should only be a last resort.
“The forthcoming National Dementia Strategy is a crucial opportunity to stop this dangerous overprescribing, and we look forward to its launch in the autumn.”
Copyright PA Business 2008