Elderly dementia residents on antipsychotic drugs have soaring stroke risks, researchers find

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New study results further underscore scientists' warnings about the risks of stroke involved with giving elderly patients antipsychotic drugs.

There is an increased risk of stroke with both typical and atypical antipsychotics, said study author Dr. Ian Douglas, a research fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Similar findings date back at least six years, according to other researchers.

"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," Douglas said.

Douglas and a colleague studied nearly 6,800 individuals who were taking antipsychotic drugs and had suffered a stroke. Those taking the drugs were 1.7 times more likely to suffer a stroke. The rate more than doubled, to 3.5 times more likely, for dementia patients taking antipsychotics. Study findings were published late last week in the British Medical Journal online.

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