Are painkillers better than antipsychotic drugs For treating Dementia?
These questions have been raised about the use of antipsychotic drugs in dementia sufferers in a new report by Norwegian and British researchers.
Patients could be better treated with painkillers says the study. The report has been published on the BMJ website and found painkillers significantly cut agitation in patients.
Agitation is a common symptom which around 80% of people with Alzheimer’s disease will develop. Agitation in dementia sufferers is often treated with anti psychotic drugs, which can have risky side effects.
Painkillers Better Than Antipsychotic Drugs the Study Suggests
The Alzheimer’s Society wants doctors to consider other types of treatment. Experts say that each year about 150,000 patients in the UK are unnecessarily prescribed antipsychotics. These can have a powerful sedative effect and can worsen dementia symptoms and increase the risk of stroke or even death.
They are often given to patients whose dementia makes them aggressive or agitated.
But researchers from Kings College, London, and Norway speculated that the behaviour may sometimes be caused by pain which patients were unable to express in other ways. They studied 352 patients with moderate or severe dementia in nursing homes in Norway. Half were given painkillers with every meal, the rest continued with their usual treatments.
Taken from BBC 18/7/11
You can read the full report on the BBC website here