Washington: Antipsychotic medication, used to control behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia in older people, is known to have negative side effects and increases the risk of stroke and death.Now, a new evidence review from The Cochrane Library has found that most older people on antipsychotic medication can be successfully weaned off, although some people experience a reoccurrence of their dementia-related symptoms.The reviewers searched for evidence about the benefit of stopping these medications versus the risk that discontinuing use would result in a reoccurrence of distressing dementia symptoms."We have enough evidence to prevent people with dementia and [the behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia] from experiencing side effects associated with antipsychotic medication. Consequently, withdrawal of chronic antipsychotic medication should be incorporated in daily practice," said the review`s lead author Tom Declercq, M.D., assistant professor in the department of family practice at Ghent University in Belgium.Dementia is a condition that causes people to gradually lose cognitive function. People with dementia often develop behavioral symptoms such as agitation, anxiety, screaming, wandering and resisting the care of people working with them. Up to 78 percent of people in nursing homes have dementia and 76 percent experience some behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia. Antipsychotic medication is often used to treat patients when behavioral treatment to control or lessen these troubling symptoms hasn`t proven effective.
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