Antipsychotic medication and risk of blood clots

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A new study has highlighted an increased risk of dangerous blood clots when taking certain types of antipsychotic drugs like the ones used to treat mental illnesses like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. These antipsychotics can also be used on occasions to combat persistent nausea and are sometimes given to patients with dementia to calm them down.

Other studies in the past have suggested a link between having a stroke and antipsychotic medication but this latest study is the strongest one yet.

The study was conducted by researchers from Nottinghamshire County Teaching Primary Care Trust and involved analysis of data on over 25,000 people with blood clots and 90,000 people with no blood clots.

What the results revealed was that there was a 32 percent increase in the risk of suffering from a blood clot like deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or a clot in the lung (pulmonary embolism) if you took these antipsychotics.

Almost 16,000 of the 25,000 people in the study who had suffered a clot developed a DVT and just over 9000 suffered a clot in the lung and those most at risk were the ones taking the newer so called ‘atypical’ antipsychotics. They had a 73 percent increased risk compared to a 28 percent increased risk when taking other types of antipsychotics, furthermore, the riskiest time seemed to be shortly after starting to take the new drug.

“Although the overall risk of a stroke is low, the results of this study remind us that antipsychotics are powerful drugs and should be prescribed carefully, with regular follow-ups” said Dr Sharlin Ahmed from the Stroke Association.

However, as the researchers did note and the NHS news pointed out, this risk is still very small and that overall, the people in the study only had a 0.1 percent chance of having a blood clot each year.

The NHS is therefore saying that people taking these antipsychotics should not be overly concerned by this news and should not stop taking their medication but if they are worried they should speak to their doctor.

NHS news also say that a systematic review would now be the best way to look at the evidence and point out that the authors themselves recommend further study before changes in clinical practice be recommended.

If further research confirms these findings then it may be that the drugs have to be used more cautiously in high risk patients.

This latest research has been published in the British Medical Journal.

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