Background: Clinical trials of aripiprazole, a recentl Food and Drug Administration-approved atypical antipsychotic, included elderly patients, but more data are needed on the effects of aripiprazole in this population, especially those with comorbid medical illnesses.
Objective: To assess the response and safety of aripiprazole treatment in elderly patients with phrenia or schizoaffective disorder.
Method: Data was obtained by retrospective review of medical records. Aripiprazole was used to treat 10 elderly hospitalized patients between 62 and 85 years of age who manifested signs of psychosis related to schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. All patients had been treated previously with atypical and classic antipsychotics. Response was assessed by clinical observation of patients' behavior and Clinical Global Impression Scale assigned retrospectively.
Results: Seven patients responded to treatment, two did not respond, and one had a partial response. The mean Clinical Global Impression Scale scores improved from 6 (severely ill) at baseline to 2.3 (much improved) at discharge. Treatment was discontinued in the two patients who did not respond. Of the seven patients who responded, four presented with positive symptoms and showed significant improvement while three presented with positive and negative symptoms and both symptoms improved significantly. Four patients had preexisting extrapyramidal symptoms (EPS) and these symptoms decreased in three patients. In addition, two patients were able to discontinue antiparkinson medications. One patient who had severe tardive dyskinesia showed significant improvement in the dyskinetic symptoms. Four patients showed postural hypotension (without clinical symptoms) which resolved over time without treatment. Six patients showed a mean weight loss of 5.2 lbs. No adverse consequences occurred when divalproex sodium, carbamazepine, clonazepam or citalopram were given concurrently.
Conclusion: The reduction of both positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia and the lack of significant EPS, tardive dyskinesia, sedation, weight gain, anticholinergic effects, and QTc prolongation gives preliminary indication that aripiprazole may be a safe and effective medication for elderly patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder.