Implications of Adverse Outcomes Associated with Antipsychotics in Older Patients with Dementia: A 2011–2022 Update

Marianna Rogowska*, Mary Thornton, Byron Creese, Latha Velayudhan, Dag Aarsland, Clive Ballard, Konstantinos Tsamakis, Robert Stewart, Christoph Mueller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Neuropsychiatric symptoms affect most patients with dementia over the course of the disease. They include a wide variety of symptoms from apathy and depression to psychosis, irritability, impulsivity and agitation. These symptoms are associated with significant distress to the patient and caregivers, as well as more rapid progression of dementia, institutionalisation and higher mortality. The first-line management of the neuropsychiatric symptoms of dementia should be non-pharmacological. If medications are required, antipsychotics are commonly chosen. Second-generation antipsychotics such as risperidone, olanzapine, quetiapine and aripiprazole are prescribed more often than first-generation antipsychotics, such as haloperidol. The aim of this review is to provide an update on findings on adverse outcomes and clinical implications of antipsychotic use in dementia. These medications may increase mortality and can be associated with adverse events including pneumonia, cerebrovascular events, parkinsonian symptoms or higher rates of venous thromboembolism. Risks related to antipsychotic use in dementia are moderated by a number of modifiable and non-modifiable factors such as co-prescribing of other medications, medical and psychiatric co-morbidities, and demographics such as age and sex, making individualised treatment decisions challenging. Antipsychotics have further been associated with an increased risk of reliance on long-term care and institutionalisation, and they might not be cost-effective for healthcare systems. Many of these risks can potentially be mitigated by close physical health monitoring of antipsychotic treatment, as well as early withdrawal of pharmacotherapy when clinically possible.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-32
Number of pages12
JournalDrugs and Aging
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


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