A new study has found a possibly negative effect of antipsychotic drugs used to treat aggression in Alzheimer's patients, prompting some researchers to urge medical professionals to seek less harmful treatments for people living with dementia.
British researchers said the drugs increased the risk of the patients dying prematurely.
According to the three-year study, the participants who were given a placebo were 42 percent less likely to die than those who remained on the antipsychotic medication.
"It's an eye-opening study since it was one of the few non-company sponsored studies to look at long-term risks," Dr P Murali Doraiswamy, chief of the biological psychiatry division at Duke University, told HealthDay.com.
Antipsychotic drugs have been used in Alzheimer's care to treat personality changes and aggression. While it appears to raise the risk of death, researchers stated "there is still an important but limited place for atypical antipsychotics in the treatment of severe [symptoms], particularly aggression," Reuters reports.
The drugs included the study were generic treatments thioridazine, chlorpromazine, haloperidol, trifluorperazine and Johnson & Johnson's Risperdal, or risperidone.
Researchers also linked the medication to a higher risk of stroke and a decline in brain function, according to the article.