atypical antipsychotics

  1. Drop everything and read this

    Antipsychotic med doubles the risk of death

    If you have a loved one battling dementia in a care facility, drop what you're doing and check his or her list of meds.

    The word you're looking for is "haloperidol" (a.k.a. Haldol). It's an antipsychotic drug, and if it's on the list, demand that it be taken off RIGHT NOW. A new look at data on more than 75,000 dementia patients has found that this drug doesn't just increase their risk of death -- it can double it.

    And if you think that's shocking, you ain't seen nothing yet.

    That 50-percent increased risk is compared to risperidone, part of a class of meds called atypical antipsychotics. And, as a class, these meds can boost the risk of death in dementia patients by as much as 70 percent.

    The study in BMJ finds that the risk is highest in the first 40 days and that Seroquel is the "safest" of the antipsychotic meds. But don't kid yourself, because "safest" doesn't mean "safe." We're dealing with a lesser of evils here.

    To add insult to injury, along with that sky-high risk of death, one study found dementia patients who get antipsychotics also have double the risk of pneumonia.

    And here's the final straw: These drugs are completely unapproved for dementia patients in the first place because they're clinically shown to do nothing for the condition itself.

    Even the FDA has warned against it (and that's saying something). Yet a third of all dementia patients in care facilities are getting these meds every single day.

    That's because while antipsychotic drugs do nothing for the dementia, they're great at creating quiet, compliant, zombie-like patients who need as little care from the "care" facility as possible.

    Easier patients means fewer caretakers.

    Yup, like everything else, this is all about saving a few bucks. And I'm sure they're charging your insurance company top dollar for this level of "care" to boot.

    We know what helps dementia patients, and it's the hands-on care that requires an actual staff willing to give every patient the time and attention he deserves. (Read more about back-to-basics dementia care here.)

    If your loved one isn't getting a daily dose of TLC instead of meds, find a new care home -- one that actually cares.

  2. Off-label nausea meds linked to clot risk

    A doc would have to be psychotic himself to offer powerful antipsychotic drugs for common conditions like nausea... yet it happens nearly every single day.

    And now, a new study shows just what's on the line when people take these dangerous meds: their lives.

    Researchers have found that atypical antipsychotics -- designed for conditions like schizophrenia but dished out daily for far more minor complaints like nausea -- come with a dramatically higher risk of dangerous and even deadly blood clots.

    The researchers compared data on 25,532 patients who suffered either deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism between 1996 and 2007 to 89,491 people without either condition, and found that antipsychotic use overall upped the clot risk by nearly a third.

    Think that's bad? That's actually the most positive number they found.

    Users of the newer meds, atypical antipsychotics, had a 73 percent increase in clot risk... and one of them in particular, Seroquel, nearly quadrupled the risk.

    That's the drug routinely given to returning U.S. soldiers to fight post-traumatic stress disorders -- and at least some of those soldiers have died suddenly after getting their meds.

    Now there's a way to thank a soldier.

    The study in BMJ Online First found that the greatest danger is in the first few months. But I'd say the biggest danger is in having a doc who would even consider these meds at all.

    In addition to the increased stroke risk, atypical antipsychotics can cause weight gain, diabetes, and muscle problems. Roughly 5 percent of the people who take these meds -- nothing to sneeze at -- develop involuntary and often permanent muscle movements, especially around the mouth.

    Of course, the experts are spewing all the usual claptrap about how the overall risks are small -- but you'd have to be nuts to want to take any risk when you don't have to.

    These conditions almost always have other answers. If your doc isn't interested in finding them, find a new doc instead.

  3. Americans 60 and Over Deal with Depression

    However, the truth is, Americans over 60 are probably far more likely to be prescribed another class of mind-regulating drugs called atypical antipsychotics than they are antidepressants. Why?

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