Study: Antipsychotics hike stroke risk for all

The risk of stroke among patients taking antipsychotics may be more widespread than we thought. British researchers are saying that the risk accompanies all antipsychotics--not just the newer "atypicals" like Abilify and Zyprexa, as once thought. And all patients on these drugs have a greater risk--not just those with dementia, the researchers found.

The study looked at 6,790 patients with an average age of 80. It's true that the stroke risk was slightly higher for people taking atypicals versus the older antipsychotics such as Thorazine and Haldol. And the risk of stroke was also much greater in dementia patients (their risk actually tripled). But even patients without dementia saw their stroke risk magnified by 40 percent.

Echoing an FDA warning on the atypical meds, researchers said that patients with dementia shouldn't be taking these drugs--or their older brethren, either. Alzheimer's expert Dr. Sam Gandy said the new study "elevates the concern about risks of antipsychotics to a whole new level." The FDA might want to investigate, he said.

- read the story in the Washington Post
- check out the BBC article