Older antipsychotic medications, called typical antipsychotics, can cause a variety of central nervous system side effects.
The newer, atypical agents are preferred by many due to their better side effect profiles. Typical antipsychotics can increase the risk for mortality in the elderly, conclude researchers.
Researchers analyzed Medicare and Medicaid data on 3,609 typical antipsychotic users matched with 3,609 atypical antipsychotic users. Residents who used atypical antipsychotics had an unadjusted mortality rate of 18.42% compared with 24.06% for users of typical antipsychotics. On average, there was a 41% higher risk of death within 180 days of exposure to typical agents compared to treatment with atypical agents.
The researchers advise physicians to base their decisions to use antipsychotics in this population on individual risk factors as well as the acute and long-term risks of therapy. Since dual-eligible residents are particularly vulnerable, they should be closely monitored once antipsychotic treatment is started.
For more info, see Aparasu et al. (2012). Risk of death in dual-eligible nursing home residents using typical or atypical antipsychotic agents. Medical Care, 50(11), 961-968. doi:10.1097/MLR.0b013e31826ec185