Indications of atypical antipsychotics in the elderly

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Abstract

Atypical antipsychotics (AAP) have become some of the most commonly prescribed medications in primary and specialist care settings. Off-label prescribing accounts for much of the expanded use of AAPs. This has become common in the elderly. Marketing by pharmaceutical companies appears to have contributed to the off-label use of AAPs, in situations where their safety and efficacy is far from established. Although evidence provides varying degrees of support for their use for behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia, augmentation of antidepressants in depression, anxiety, insomnia and in the management of psychosis in Parkinson’s Disease, there are a number of potential problems with their expanded use in the elderly. These include weight gain, type two diabetes mellitus, sudden cardiac death and increased mortality rates in the elderly with dementia. It is recommended that whenever AAPs are used off-label, a review date is identified, informed consent is obtained and treatment and side-effects are closely monitored.

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