Dementia patients get incorrect meds, study says
More than half of elderly patients with dementia are prescribed at least one potentially inappropriate medication, a recent study from eight European countries suggests.
Some medicines are not typically given to older patients because the potential side effects outweigh their clinical benefit and because there are often safer or more effective alternatives available.
Researchers who studied more than 2,000 people with dementia from England, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden found that 60 percent had been prescribed at least one potentially inappropriate drug, while over 25 percent had received at least two such medicines.
In particular, dementia patients age 80 or older who were living in longterm care facilities were at higher risk of receiving two or more such potentially unsuitable medicines, according to Dr. Anna Renom-Guiteras of University Hospital Parc de Salut Mar in Barcelona, Spain and colleagues.
The prescription of two or more inappropriate medications was associated with a higher chance of at least one fall-related injury and at least one episode of hospitalization, the researchers reported in Age and Ageing, online Sept. 1.
The findings are drawn from interviews with patients and caregivers conducted between 2010 and 2012, and from medical records. Patients were either living in a long-term care facility or were receiving care at home but were at risk for needing institutional care in the coming six months.
Drugs were considered potentially inappropriate for the elderly if they appeared on a list published in 2015 by a team of European experts.
“This is an interesting and useful study which confirms what most dementia specialists have been aware of for a long time,” said Dr. Christopher Soosay, consultant psychiatrist at London-based Dementia Specialists LLP.
The most frequently prescribed potentially inappropriate drugs in the study were medicines for acid-related disorders and psycholeptics, including antipsychotics, which produce a calming effect but also affect mental function.
In about half of people with dementia, antipsychotic drugs do not work, according to the UK-based Alzheimer’s Society.
Dementia is a syndrome characterized by deterioration in memory, thinking, behavior and daily functioning.