GPs should monitor older patients with dementia closely during in the first month of antipsychotic treatment, say researchers who found the drugs double the risk of a heart attack.
UK and Canadian researchers conducted a retrospective study among a cohort of 40,000 randomly selected community-dwelling patients with dementia in Quebec.
After one year, 1.3% of new users of antipsychotics suffered a myocardial infarction, compared with 1.2% of non-users.
After adjusting for potentially confounding factors, they found antipsychotic users were two times more likely to suffer a heart attack relative to non-users for the first 30 days, but that this risk decreased over time.
Study leader Dr Antoine Pariente, a researcher in pharmacy at the University of Montréal, said: ‘As antipsychotic use is frequent in patients with dementia, the increased risk of myocardial infarction may have a major public health effect, which highlights the need for communicating such risk and for close monitoring of patients during the first weeks of treatment.'
Arch Intern Med 2012, online 26 March