The Debate Over Antipsychotics in Alzheimer’s Treatment: Impact on Health and Alternative Solutions

2024-04-18 14:56:44

The debate about the use of antipsychotics may well be relaunched after the publication of a study, on Wednesday 17 April, in British Medical Journal. These controversial medications are still widely prescribed to treat certain symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. “Their use in adults with dementia is associated with an increased risk of stroke, venous thromboembolism, heart attack, heart failure, fracture, pneumonia and acute kidney failure.”details the publication based on data from the UK Health Service.

“These treatments are also widely used in France, although we have long known that the benefit-risk balance is very unfavorable and that there are effective non-drug alternatives.”emphasizes Professor Antoine Piau, geriatrician at Toulouse University Hospital.

Originally, these antipsychotics, also called neuroleptics, were normally intended to treat schizophreniawhich can cause delusions and hallucinations. “Then their use expanded, especially from the 1990s, to control behavioral disturbances – crying, agitation, aggressiveness – in patients suffering from dementia. Until it was discovered that there was a price to pay for serious side effects”recalls neuropsychogeriatrician Jean-Claude Monfort.

Break with the panacea culture

In January 2009, a British study was thus published by The Lancet Neurology will make a big splash by showing that long-term administration of neuroleptics significantly reduces life expectancy for people suffering from Alzheimer’s. “Faced with the accumulated evidence about the serious negative effects of these neuroleptics, the health authorities will even make this topic one of the priorities of the Alzheimer’s plan for 2008-2012, with the goal of dividing their use by three.”, specifies Antoine Piau. But it is difficult to know whether this reduction program has had any effect. Especially since the Covid crisis, it seems, has led to a resurgence in the prescribing of these treatments.

” Added this is the crisis in the health systemwhich makes the implementation of non-drug techniques – bathing, interaction with the animal or sensory therapy – more complicated, continues Antoine Piau. Techniques that have proven their effectiveness, but require a strong human investment to break with the dominant medical culture of all drugs. »

#disease #risk #antipsychotics

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