Medical groups: Residents on antipsychotics need to be monitored for diabetes

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People undergoing a drug regimen for schizophrenia, manic-depression, autism, dementia among other psychiatric disorders need to be carefully monitored for signs of diabetes, obesity or high cholesterol, caution four medical associations in the February issue of Diabetes Care. The advisory is based on studies of six drugs that are available in the United States: Abilify, Clozaril, Geodon, Risperdal, Seroquel and Zyprexa.

The medications differ in their risks of side effects. If a patient has a weight gain of 5% or more, a switchover to another drug should be considered, the report recommends.

For cautionary practices, the association says medical professionals should screen patients for patient and family history of obesity and diabetes, as well as the patient's weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels before prescribing one of the drugs. One complication especially vital to watch for is diabetic ketoacidosis, because it's life threatening. The symptoms include weight loss, nausea, vomiting, rapid breathing and dehydration.

The American Diabetes Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the North American Association for the Study of Obesity, and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists sent out the report Tuesday.