Patient Care

Research Shows Antipsychotics Increase Type 2 Diabetes


NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Type 2 diabetes risk appears to be increased in youth who are treated with antipsychotics, according to new research.

"We believe that clinicians should take away from our study that type 2 diabetes is a risk when treating youth with antipsychotics, especially long-term," said senior author Dr. Christoff U. Correll of Zucker Hillside Hospital, North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, Glen Oaks, New York.

"Therefore, antipsychotics should be used judiciously and for as short a period as necessary and possible," he told Reuters Health by email. "Importantly, clinicians should routinely and proactively monitor the efficacy and need for ongoing antipsychotic treatment as well as the potential emergence of adverse effects. Specifically, clinicians and patients, as well as parents, should monitor weight change monthly, and fasting blood work for blood sugar and blood lipids

should be obtained before starting an antipsychotic, three months later, and every six months thereafter."

Dr. Correll and colleagues conducted a systematic review of studies reporting on type 2 diabetes incidence in youth up to 24 years old who were exposed to antipsychotics for at least three months. They did a meta-analysis of thirteen studies involving more than 185,000 youth exposed to antipsychotics, representing some 310,000 patient-years.

Seven studies included psychiatric controls and eight studies included healthy controls.

During a mean follow-up of 1.7 years, the cumulative type 2 diabetes risk was 5.72 per 1,000 patient-years (p<0.001). The overall incidence rate was 3.09 cases per 1,000 patient-years (p<0.001), according to an article online January 20 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Compared with healthy controls, antipsychotic-exposed youth had significantly higher cumulative type 2 diabetes risk (odds ratio, 2.58; p<0.0001) and incidence rate ratio (IRR, 3.02; p<0.0001). Compared with psychiatric controls, they had significantly higher risks (OR 2.09, p<0.0001, IRR 1.79,p<0.0001).

In multivariate regression analysis of 10 studies, diabetes was associated with longer follow-up, use of olanzapine, and male sex. Greater diabetes incidence was tied to use of second-generation antipsychotics, while it was inversely related to diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.

"Although our findings cannot comment on the individual risk with any specific antipsychotic other than the significantly higher risk associated with olanzapine, other studies equally suggest the much increased cardiovascular risk associates with olanzapine than with other antipsychotics in youth. Based on all of these data, I personally believe that olanzapine should not be used first- or second-line in youth, but likely be reserved or treatment-resistant patients who cannot benefit sufficiently from antipsychotics with lower cardiometabolic risk," Dr. Correll told Reuters Health.

"Clearly, additional research is needed to identify the specific mechanisms of antipsychotic-related weight gain and development of diabetes in order to either counter these effects or develop medications that do not adversely affect cardiometabolic health," he added. "Moreover, research is needed seeking to identify patients who are at particularly high risk for weight gain and diabetes and those who seem to be protected against these antipsychotic-related side effects to help individualize treatment selection."

"Finally," he concluded, "research is required that tests lower-risk pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic interventions that may be used effectively before or instead of an antipsychotic when treating nonpsychotic conditions. This need pertains especially to youth presenting with severe mood or behavioral dysregulation, irritability, and aggression for whom antipsychotics are used a lot, often without even providing psychosocial treatments."

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