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Anti-Psychotic Drugs for Dementia have a High CVA Risk

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The Department of Health issued a ‘Dementia Commissioning Pack’ yesterday (Thursday 21/07/11) warning of the dangers of routinely prescribing anti-psychotic drugs to those with dementia.

Thousands of people across the UK are taking a chemical cocktail of drugs – many unnecessarily – that potentially cause health problems that can be fatal.  These drugs can cause other medical conditions to worsen, with the likelihood of a CVA (stroke) being one of the highest risks.  They are also known to speed up the rate of mental decline.

It’s estimated that five people per day die as a direct result of taking these prescribed anti-psychotic drugs, and 1,620 people per year suffer a stroke – of which half are extremely severe.  The problem is made worse by the fact that these drugs are routinely used to keep dementia sufferers in hospitals and care homes subdued.

Around 600,000 people currently have a form of degenerative brain disorder such as Alzheimer’s disease.  However, as our population gradually ages this number is expected to rise to over a million in the next few decades.

There are alternative treatments available that are more advantageous than these drugs.  The new commissioning pack says that under the new NHS reform GP-led bodies, doctors must review all cases of anti-psychotic prescriptions by April 2012.  They must also issue guidelines to care homes and hospitals to look for ‘therapeutic alternatives’ and to publish their findings on the progress.

While it’s agreed that there can be a case for short-term prescription of anti-psychotic drugs, very often they continue to be given simply for ease rather than alternative treatment being sought.

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