The drug risperidone is an anti-psychotic medication and can be effective in treating a variety of mental conditions, most notably schizophrenia. Use of risperidone for dementia is not generally recommended as the drug can be very dangerous for patients, especially older patients who suffer from dementia. Risperidone can effectively treat some of the symptoms of dementia, but it also increases the risk of death among elderly patients.
Dementia typically manifests in older adults. It is most often the result of one of several neurological conditions that cause a gradual deterioration of cognitive function. The symptoms of dementia manifest differently in each patient but usually include a range of mental problems. In many patients, dementia eventually produces behavioral problems, such as difficulty in socializing appropriately or an inability to understand social and verbal cues, and can cause great agitation and even hallucinations.
Schizophrenia and other related mental conditions can produce behavioral problems and symptoms similar to those caused by dementia. Risperidone, which is commonly used to treat the symptoms of schizophrenia, can be effective in treating those symptoms when they result from dementia. Some doctors will prescribe this drug after careful consultation with those responsible for the care of a patient suffering from dementia. This use of risperidone for dementia treatment involves a calculated risk, but some caregivers feel that the improved quality of life for patients taking this medication outweighs the associated risks. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved this use of risperidone, however.
Medical studies have shown that the use of risperidone for dementia, especially in elderly patients, involves significant health risks. This medicine is more likely to cause dangerous, or even fatal, side effects when given to older patients suffering from dementia. Studies have shown that patients are nearly twice as likely to die, from a variety of causes, while taking risperidone for dementia as they are if they are not receiving this treatment.
Use of risperidone for dementia in elderly patients does not cause a specific type of health risk but seems to increase the risk of death from a variety of different causes. Heart problems are more likely to occur in patients taking this medication, and other medical issues, including infection, are also thought to occur more often and to be more serious. A number of very serious risperidone drug interactions are known, and doctors will generally be particularly careful about prescribing risperidone for dementia in patients who regularly take medications known to cause harmful drug interactions with risperidone.