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What are the risks of antipsychotic drugs in people with dementia?

Sarah N. Mourra, MD
Neurology
When considering the risks and benefits of antipsychotic drugs in people with dementia it's important to keep in mind that there is a black-box warning on all of these medications: They can all increase the risk of stroke or cardiac mortality.
 
Other important considerations for the entire class of antipsychotics involve the fact that, especially for the second-generation or atypical antipsychotics, which are the default drugs in this population, there is the increased risk of insulin resistance and the development of metabolic side effects, weight gain and high cholesterol and triglycerides. This is very important for elders who may suffer already from a metabolic syndrome or diabetes. These medications may actually cause a worsening of some of those conditions. This can manifest as multiple issues further down the line, such as mood changes due to blood sugar fluctuations.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.