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Antipsychotics linked to raised risk of pneumonia

By Lilian Anekwe

Prescribing antipsychotic drugs in elderly patients is associated with a dose-dependent risk of community-acquired pneumonia, Dutch research shows.

The researchers used a primary care database to identify 225 cohort of patients aged 65 years or older who were prescribed either typical or atypical antipsychotics between 1996 and 2006, and matched them to 1,686 controls on the basis of age, sex and date of onset of pneumonia.

Current use of either antipsychotics was associated with a dose-dependent increase in the risk for pneumonia compared with past use of antipsychotic drugs. Typical antipsychotics raised the risk by 1.8 times compared with previous use while atypical antipsychotics increased the risk by 2.6 times. Atypical antipsychotic drugs were also associated with a six-fold increase in the risk for fatal pneumonia.

Dr Gianluca Trifirò, a medical informatician at Erasmus University Medical Centre in the Netherlands, concluded: ‘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.'

Annals of Internal Medicine 2010;152:418-425

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