elderly patient suffering from Pneumonia

A study conducted by researchers from the University of Eastern Finland confirms that antipsychotic medications can raise the risk of pneumonia, especially in elderly patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. The study, published in the August issue of the Chest Journal, determined that the risk of pneumonia is highest at the start of the antipsychotic treatment but remains increased with long-term use. The study also states that there are no marked differences in the risk posed between the most commonly used antipsychotic drugs including a Haldol, Seroquel and Risperdal. The use of the antipsychotic Risperdal has become controversial as the number of Risperdal lawsuits continues to rise.

What is the Link Between Antipsychotics and Pneumonia?

Antipsychotic Medications

Researchers believe the connection between antipsychotics and pneumonia may be found in the way the drugs work. Antipsychotic medications work by stimulating the central nervous system and changing the levels of certain natural chemicals found within the body. This stimulation produces a marked improvement in the cognitive functioning of patients. However, it can also lead to sedation, trouble swallowing, and trouble breathing, factors thought to lead to an increased risk of pneumonia. The data indicated a link between antipsychotic use and an increased risk of pneumonia in all patients. However those with Alzheimer’s disease were twice as likely to develop pneumonia.

elderly man alone suffering from symptoms of dementiaAuthors of the study say the risk posed by the use of antipsychotic drugs is not new. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning about the use of antipsychotics for behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia as early as 2005. In that warning, pneumonia was listed as one of the leading causes of death in patients who took antipsychotic drugs. The study’s findings support current treatment guidelines on setting a high threshold for initiating antipsychotic use among individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.

Why is Pneumonia Dangerous?

human lungs

Simply put, pneumonia is an infection of the lungs. The disease can range from mild severe, and in some cases the infection can prove fatal. In fact, pneumonia is a major cause of death among Americans aged 65 and older. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more people die each year from pneumonia than from automobile accidents.

Generally speaking, the elderly are more frail, which makes it more difficult for them to clear secretions from their lungs. When these secretions go down to the bronchial tubes, they may cause an infection leading to pneumonia. Seniors also tend to have weakened immune systems and other ailments such as diabetes, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s putting them at a higher risk of pneumonia.

Contact an Experienced Risperdal Lawyer

Dangerous Drug lawyer meeting clients about Antipsychotic MedicationsIf you or someone you know has suffered complications after taking the drug Risperdal, you may be able to receive compensation for your medical bills, lost income and pain and suffering, among other losses. Our firm is working with experienced Risperdal lawyers, who are investigating these cases. They may be able to file a Risperdal lawsuit for you, and they charge no fee unless you win an award or settlement. For a free (no obligation) case evaluation, call our toll free number at 1-800-992-6878 or fill out a contact form online.