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Atypical Antipsychotic Drugs and the Risk of Sudden Cardiac Death

AHRQ Web Conference

May 1, 2009


Antipsychotic medications, widely used for the treatment of schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, are commonly divided into two classes, typical and atypical antipsychotics. The frequent occurrence of serious movement disorders in persons taking typical antipsychotic drugs limits the use of these drugs. In addition, there are extensive data linking typical antipsychotic drugs to an increased risk of sudden cardiac death. Atypical antipsychotic drugs are less likely to cause tremors and other serious movement disorders. Although less is known about the cardiac safety of the atypical antipsychotic drugs, they have been considered a safer treatment alternative and have rapidly replaced the older drugs in clinical practice.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) hosted the Web conference to help pharmacists and other health care professionals understand the findings from this study, titled "Atypical Antipsychotic Drugs and the Risk of Sudden Cardiac Death," published in the January 15 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.


Background

This Web conference featured experts from AHRQ as well as a presentation by Wayne Ray, Ph.D., Director of the Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and a Professor of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University, and primary investigator for this research. This event:

  • Described AHRQ's new comparative effectiveness program and the scientific resources it provides to inform health care decisions and evidence-based practice.
  • Compared the risk of sudden cardiac death associated with the use of the two classes of antipsychotic drugs.
  • Discussed and evaluated the findings from a recent AHRQ study that analyzed the cardiac safety of atypical antipsychotic medications in a large cohort of Medicaid enrollees (NEJM 2009; 360:225-35).
  • Described the dose-related increased risk of sudden cardiac death among current users of antipsychotic drugs.
  • Explained potential implications of the cohort study results for pharmacy practice and patient counseling.

Speakers shared key insights on AHRQ's Effective Health Care Program, the results of the "Atypical Antipsychotic Drugs and the Risk of Sudden Cardiac Death" article, and how pharmacists can use this report in practice.

Speakers

  • Wayne Ray, Ph.D., Principal Investigator at the Centers for Education and Research on Therapeutics, Director of the Division of Pharmacoepidemiology, and a Professor of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University.
  • Scott Smith, R.Ph., M.S.P.H., Ph.D., Director of the pharmaceutical outcomes research programs at AHRQ's Center for Outcomes and Evidence.
  • Carmen Kelly, Pharm.D., R.Ph., Pharmacist Officer in the Center for Outcomes and Evidence at AHRQ.

Article Discussed

Continuing Pharmacy Education Credit

The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) and AHRQ have collaborated for the purpose of developing and providing continuing pharmacy education for this Web conference.

Note: The archived Web conference contains a course number and access code not applicable to this home-based study. For details, go to Continuing Pharmacy Education Credit.

Web Conference

Presentations from the Web conference are available below:

Current as of October 2009


Internet Citation:

Atypical Antipsychotic Drugs and the Risk of Sudden Cardiac Death. Web Conference, May 1, 2009. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.certs.hhs.gov/resources/webconferences/antipsychotics/webconference.htm


 

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