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Alzheimer's patients prescribed antipyschotic drugs as sedatives are dying early because of the treatment, British researchers said on Friday.
Although so-called neuroleptic drugs were originally developed for schizophrenia, they are frequently also used on an "off-label" basis to calm difficult or aggressive dementia patients.
A five-year investigation found that the drugs, when given to Alzheimer's sufferers, were linked to a significant increase in long-term mortality -- with patients on the medicines dying an average six months earlier than those given placebo.
Researchers led by Professor Clive Ballard of King's College London also found neuroleptics were associated with a significant deterioration in verbal fluency and cognitive function.
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