Antipsychotic Drugs Boost Stroke Risk

ABC News
Antipsychotic Drugs Boost Stroke Risk
Patients with dementia face a more than 3-fold danger
By Steven Reinberg

All antipsychotic drugs can increase the risk of stroke, but the risk is greatest among older patients with dementia, British researchers report.

Concerns about the risk of stroke and antipsychotics were first raised in 2002, especially in people with dementia. In 2004, Britain’s Committee on Safety of Medicines recommended that antipsychotics not be used in people with dementia. And, in 2005, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ordered manufacturers of atypical antipsychotics to add a black box warning to their products about the increased risk for stroke…

Both typical (first generation) and atypical (second generation) antipsychotics are associated with an increased risk of stroke, Douglas said. “This risk is substantially higher in patients with dementia than those without. These findings need to be factored into prescribing decisions made by doctors caring for patients with often-distressing and difficult-to-treat psychiatric symptoms.”

For the study, Douglas and his colleague Liam Smeeth, a professor of clinical epidemiology, collected data on 6,790 patients who had suffered a stroke and were taking antipsychotic drugs. Patients taking antipsychotic drugs were 1.7 times more likely to have a stroke, and patients with dementia taking antipsychotics were 3.5 times more likely to have a stroke.

The risk for stroke was slightly higher for people taking the newer atypical antipsychotics, compared with people taking the older typical antipsychotics. Atypical antipsychotics include drugs such as Abilify, Clozaril and Zyprexa. Typical antipsychotics include Thorazine, Haldol and Clopixol.


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