Antipsychotic Drug. According to a study conducted at University of Rochester Center in N.Y., patients who are taking clozapine, the most effective antipsychotic drug, have significantly higher rates of metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions that can increase the risk for diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. Some of the conditions include high blood pressure, insulin resistance, abnormal levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, and excess body fat around the waist.
Patients with metabolic syndrome are usually at two- to three-times greater risk for cardiovascular disease-related mortality.
Clozapine is recommended for patients resistant to conventional antipsychotic drugs. Currently, it is the only medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of suicidal behavior.
There are potential benefits to taking this drug
There are potential benefits to taking this drug, but researchers now say the increased physical health risks must also be taken into consideration.
In this study, 2,700 psychiatry patients were weighed, measured and tested for diabetes, blood lipids, and blood pressure. The research showed that over 50 percent of the patients taking clozapine for at least six months had metabolic syndrome. In a comparison group not taking clozapine, only 20 percent had metabolic syndrome.
There have been many studies showing that clozapine is associated with weight gain and agranulocytosis a serious blood disease, but this is the first study to further describe clozapine’s link to metabolic syndrome.
J. Steven Lamberti, M.D., says, “There are long-term health implications (with clozapine). This study suggests that patients who need the most effective medication are between a rock and a hard place.”