Antipsychotic drugs increase risk of developing pneumonia in elderly

April 15, 2008

Elderly patients who use antipsychotic drugs have a 60 percent increased risk of developing pneumonia compared to non-users. This risk is highest in the first week following prescription and decreases gradually thereafter. These findings are published in Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Antipsychotic drugs are frequently used in elderly patients for the treatment of psychosis and behavioral problems associated with dementia and delirium. This study is the first to show that the development of pneumonia is associated with antipsychotic drug use.

“The risk of developing pneumonia is not associated with long-term use, but is the highest shortly after starting the drug,” say Drs. Rob van Marum and Wilma Knol, authors of the study. They caution that “all antipsychotic drugs may be associated with pneumonia in elderly patients.”

In nursing homes, up to 40 percent of residents may be prescribed antipsychotics, according to the study. It has been suggested that, for residents of nursing homes who receive antipsychotic therapy, more than half are prescribed for inappropriate reasons.

Although literature shows limited efficacy and effectiveness for antipsychotic drug use in the treatment of behavioral problems in dementia patients, these drugs are frequently used for this purpose. In the last few years it has become clear that the use of antipsychotic drugs in elderly patients is also associated with an increased risk of death and morbidity.

The underlying mechanism for the association remains unclear. The authors stress that clinicians may need to monitor patients for sedation after initiation of antipsychotic medication and that a careful weighing of the possible risks is recommended before starting antipsychotic treatment in elderly people.

Source: Wiley

Explore further: Researchers to investigate overuse of antipsychotic drugs in dementia patients

Related Stories

Researchers to investigate overuse of antipsychotic drugs in dementia patients

April 13, 2015
Rutgers will take the lead in a three-year study that will investigate the effectiveness of federal and state initiatives to address overprescribing of antipsychotic medications for dementia patients in nursing homes.

Push underway to cut drugs for dementia patients

September 14, 2011
Day after day, Hazel Eng sat on her couch, a blank stare on her face. The powerful antipsychotics she was taking often cloaked her in sedation. And when they didn't, the 89-year-old lashed out at her nursing home's aides ...

Certain antipsychotic meds tied to kidney problems in elderly

August 19, 2014
(HealthDay)—Kidney injury can be added to the list of possible harms related to use of three antipsychotic medications often prescribed to treat behavioral symptoms of dementia in older adults, a new study finds.

Urinary tract infections 29 times more likely in schizophrenia relapse

April 3, 2013
Schizophrenia patients experiencing relapse are 29 times more likely than healthy individuals to have a urinary tract infection, researchers report.

Recommended for you

Opioid addiction treatment behind bars reduced post-incarceration overdose deaths in RI

February 14, 2018
A treatment program for opioid addiction launched by the Rhode Island Department of Corrections was associated with a significant drop in post-incarceration drug overdose deaths and contributed to an overall drop in overdose ...

Heroin vaccine blocks lethal overdose

February 14, 2018
Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have achieved a major milestone toward designing a safe and effective vaccine to both treat heroin addiction and block lethal overdose of the drug. Their research, published ...

Study shows NIH spent >$100 billion on basic science for new medicines

February 12, 2018
Federally funded research contributed to the science underlying all new medicines approved by the FDA over the past six years, according to a new study by Bentley University.

Opioid use increases risk of serious infections

February 12, 2018
Opioid users have a significantly increased risk of infections severe enough to require treatment at the hospital, such as pneumonia and meningitis, as compared to people who don't use opioids.

Placebo pills prescribed honestly help cancer survivors manage symptoms

February 9, 2018
Long after cancer treatment ends, many continue to deal with one particular symptom that refuses to go away: fatigue. In a new study, researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Harvard Medical School have ...

Multinational companies continue to produce unregulated antibiotics in India

February 5, 2018
Millions of unapproved antibiotics are being sold in India, according to a new study by researchers at Queen Mary University of London and Newcastle University.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.