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Elderly on Antipsychotics at Higher Risk for Pneumonia

Last Updated: April 06, 2010.

Elderly patients taking antipsychotic medication are at a dose-dependent increased risk of developing community-acquired pneumonia, according to a study published in the April 6 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

TUESDAY, April 6 (HealthDay News) -- Elderly patients taking antipsychotic medication are at a dose-dependent increased risk of developing community-acquired pneumonia, according to a study published in the April 6 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Gianluca Trifiro, M.D., of the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and colleagues conducted a study of people age 65 and older taking antipsychotic drugs, and incidents of community-acquired pneumonia, to evaluate the possible association between the two. The population-based study included 258 case patients and 1,686 control participants.

The researchers found that current use of either atypical (odds ratio, 2.61) or typical (odds ratio, 1.76) antipsychotic drugs was associated with a dose-dependent increase in pneumonia risk compared with past use of antipsychotic medication. Sixty-five (25 percent) of the patients died in 30 days; only atypical antipsychotic drug use was associated with an increased risk for fatal pneumonia (odds ratio, 5.97).

"Our study shows that the use of either atypical or typical antipsychotic drugs in elderly outpatients is associated with the development of community-acquired pneumonia in a dose-dependent manner soon after the beginning of treatment," the authors write. "Clinicians who start treatment with both atypical and typical antipsychotic drugs should closely monitor patients, particularly at the start of therapy and if high doses are given, with respect to the risk for community-acquired pneumonia."

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