Published on August 3, 2009 in THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER.
A warning for older diabetics who take antipsychotic drugs
Older diabetics who start on an antipsychotic drug may face a greater risk of high blood glucose levels, or hyperglycemia, according to a study published in the July 27 Archives of Internal Medicine.
The findings are based on a Canadian study of 13,817 diabetics aged 66 and older who took antipsychotics in a two-year period for dementia and other conditions, while also receiving insulin-treatment, oral hypoglycemic (blood-glucose reducing) agents, or no diabetes treatment. Eleven percent - 1,515 people - of patients were hospitalized for hyperglycemia or related conditions.
Those starting on antipsychotics were particularly at risk; after their first prescription, they were eight to 15 times more likely to be hospitalized than those not getting the drugs.
The connection between hyperglycemia and antipsychotic use has been studied in younger patients with schizophrenia, but research in older adults is limited, the researchers said. If the use of antipsychotics in older diabetics with dementia cannot be avoided, the study's authors conclude, then patients and relatives should be on the alert for signs of high blood sugar levels once treatment begins. The researchers recommend enhanced glucose monitoring for all patients starting antipsychotic drugs. - Heather J. Chin
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