The use of psychotropic drugs (antipsychotics, benzodiazepines and benzodiazepine-related drugs, and antidepressants) is common, with a prevalence estimates range of 19-29% among community dwelling older adults. These drugs are often prescribed for off-label use, including neuropsychiatric symptoms. The older adult population also has high rates of pneumonia and some of these cases may be associated with adverse drug events. In this narrative review, we summarize the findings from current observational studies on the association between psychotropic drug use and pneumonia in older adults. In addition to studies assessing the use of psychotropics, we included antiepileptic drugs, as they are also central nervous system-acting drugs, whose use is becoming more common in the aging population. The use of antipsychotics, benzodiazepine, and benzodiazepine-related drugs are associated with increased risk of pneumonia in older adults (≥ 65 years of age), and these findings are not limited to this age group. Minimal and conflicting evidence has been reported on the association between antidepressant drug use and pneumonia, but differences between study populations make it difficult to compare findings. Studies regarding antiepileptic drug use and risk of pneumonia in older persons are lacking, although an increased risk of pneumonia in antiepileptic drug users compared with non-users in persons with Alzheimer's disease has been reported. Tools such as the American Geriatric Society Beers Criteria and the STOPP/START criteria for potentially inappropriate medications aids prescribers to avoid these drugs in order to reduce the risk of adverse drug events. However, risk of pneumonia is not mentioned in the current criteria and more research on this topic is needed, especially in vulnerable populations, such as persons with dementia.
Drugs Aging (Drugs & aging)
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