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Keywords:

  • Alzheimer's disease;
  • atypical psychotics;
  • behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD);
  • pharmacotherapy;
  • vascular dementia

Abstract

Background:  Behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) increase the burden of caregiving. In 2004, the US Food and Drug Administration issued a warning on an increase in the mortality rate in elderly patients using antipsychotics. Thereafter, although the need for antipsychotics for BPSD has increased, discussions regarding their indication have continued.

Methods:  The present study was performed in 18 patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and patients with vascular dementia (VaD) who were treated with risperidone because of BPSD. Changes in the dose of risperidone and the beneficial and adverse effects of risperidone were evaluated for 3 months after the start of antipsychotic therapy.

Results:  The mean starting dose of risperidone was 0.62 ± 0.30 mg (62 ± 30 mg chlorpromazine (CP) equivalents), which, after 3 months, increased to 0.99 ± 0.49 mg risperidone (99 ± 49 mg CP equivalents). The symptoms of BPSD at the beginning of treatment were delusions (48% of patients) and violence (22% of patients). In the 3-month treatment period, an improvement in BSPD symptoms was recorded in 78% of patients. During the study period, adverse effects were observed in 65% of patients: 26% of patients reported falling and extrapyramidal symptoms were seen in 13%. There were no cardiovascular events or deaths.

Conclusion:  In the present study, low doses of risperidone were used for the treatment of BPSD and no serious side-effects were observed. An atypical antipsychotic can be one of the treatment options if a thorough risk assessment of the cardiovascular system is made and informed consent is obtained.