Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Increased Risk of Cardiac Death for Patients Taking Psychiatric Drugs

According to the American Heart Association, sudden cardiac death, also known as sudden arrest, is death resulting from an abrupt loss of heart function, or cardiac arrest. A heart attack causes heart muscle tissue to die because of a loss of blood supply and may or may not result in cardiac arrest or death. Heart attacks can cause cardiac arrest and sudden cardiac death, but the terms are not interchangeable. One recent study conducted by Dr. Jussi Honkola, a researcher at the University of Oulu in Finland has found that people who suffered fatal cardiac arrest were more likely to have taken psychiatric drugs than people who survived a heart attack. For the study, Honkola and colleagues looked at the medications being taken by the 321 patients that had died as a result of sudden arrest and compared them with the medications being taken by 609 heart attack survivors. They found that almost 11 percent of the people who experienced sudden cardiac death had been taking antipsychotic drugs, compared with only 1.4 percent of those who survived a heart attack. Of the victims of sudden cardiac death, 7.4 percent had been taking an antidepressant, while only about 3 percent of the other group had been taking drugs to treat depression. Benzodiazepines, which are antianxiety drugs, were being taken by18.4 percent of those who experienced sudden cardiac death and just 5 percent of those who survived a heart attack.

The research team, led by Dr. Honkola, also found that more people in the surviving group were more likely to take aspirin and beta blockers, which reduce blood pressure. The study, which was presented at the Heart Rhythm Society’s annual meeting in Boston, did not reveal which psychiatric drugs were examined by the researchers. In addition, the findings did not clearly show whether or not these drugs directly caused any problems and there was no indication that anyone taking these psychiatric drugs should switch medications. The American Heart Association states that brain death and permanent death start to occur in just four to six minutes after someone experiences cardiac arrest. If you or a loved one has experienced a serious injury or death as a result of a delay in diagnosis or treatment of a heart problem, call or e-mail the attorneys at Silberstein, Awad & Miklos, P.C. We serve clients with Brooklyn medical malpractice, Bronx medical malpractice, Manhattan medical malpratice, Queens medical malpracitce, Nassau medical malpractice and Suffolk medical malpractice cases. We also serve clients located in Staten Island and Westchester County.

Call us toll-free 1-877-ASK4SAM and visit www.ask4sam.net

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