A new study has identified a significant link between antipsychotic drug initiation and accumulation of hospital days among people with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), with the authors saying “careful and regular monitoring” is needed to assess response and decrease the risk of adverse effects and events in this patient group.
The study was based on Finland’s nationwide register-based MEDALZ cohort that includes all community-dwelling persons with a clinically verified diagnosis of AD in Finland during 2005-2011 (n=70,718).
Researchers compared the accumulation of hospital days between antipsychotic initiators and non-initiators (19,909 matched pairs). Comorbidities, concomitant medications and time since AD diagnosis were accounted for in the analyses.
The authors reported that during a two-year follow-up, antipsychotic initiators had 53 per cent more hospital days than non-initiators. Antipsychotic initiators had more hospital days with primary diagnoses including dementia, mental and behavioural disorders, diseases of the respiratory and genitourinary system, cardiovascular disorders and symptoms such as fatigue than non-initiators. Antipsychotic initiators also had more hospital days due to their caregivers' days off.
The study also found a higher proportion of non-initiators had no hospitalisations (34.1%) compared with initiators (23.8%) during the follow up.
The findings are published in the Journal of American Medical Directors Association.