Antipsychotic polypharmacy among a nationwide sample of community-dwelling persons with Alzheimer's disease

  • Taipale H
  • Koponen M
  • Tanskanen A
 et al. 
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BACKGROUND: Antipsychotic polypharmacy (APP) is not recommended in treatment of behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD). There is lack of studies concerning prevalence of APP among persons with dementia. OBJECTIVES: The objective of our study was to describe prevalence and risk factors associated with antipsychotic polypharmacy among antipsychotic users with Alzheimer's disease (AD). METHODS: Data from nationwide MEDALZ-2005 cohort including all community-dwelling persons diagnosed with AD in Finland was utilized. Register-based data included prescriptions, comorbidities, and hospital discharge diagnoses. Users of antipsychotics during 2006-2009 were included (n = 9,803). The risk of starting antipsychotic polypharmacy was evaluated with Cox proportional hazards model. RESULTS: Prevalence of antipsychotic polypharmacy was 8% (n = 750) among antipsychotic users (n = 9,803). Quetiapine and risperidone was the most common combination of two antipsychotics followed by combination of quetiapine and haloperidol. Antipsychotic polypharmacy was associated with younger age (HR 1.35 [Confidence Interval, CI, 1.16-1.56]), male gender (HR 1.18 [CI 1.02-1.38]), and history of psychiatric disorder (HR 1.50 [CI 1.26-1.78]) in the adjusted model. CONCLUSIONS: In conclusion, we found higher prevalence of APP than previously reported among older populations. This is concerning since effectiveness of APP has not been demonstrated and APP is not recommended in the treatment of BPSD. Clinicians should pay more attention to avoid APP and use of antipsychotics to other indications than BPSD among persons with AD.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • antipsychotic polypharmacy
  • antipsychotics
  • prescription register

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