Pounds Encourage Prescription

Antipsychotic medication metabolic risk determined based on weight

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Around the holidays, weight always becomes a topic of health consideration, while doctors seem to consider it year-round.

A recent study available through the journal Psychiatric Services examines the relationship between metabolism issues and the prescribed antipsychotic of choice. The experiment determined weight to be the key factor in a physician's decision of which popular schizophrenia or bipolar disorder medications to prescribe. 

"Ask a doctor about the effects of medication on preexisting conditions."

Chenghui Li, Ph.D., Dinesh Mittal, M.D., and Richard Owen, M.D. of the University of Arkansas administered the study. Lead author, Dr. Li, notes that “patients' weight appeared to be the key consideration in providers' decision to order or continue antipsychotics according to the associated metabolic risk.”

In analyzing data from the 2005-2007 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, the doctors found 1,898 office visits involved the mention or prescription of antipsychotics. Based on their propensity to elicit abnormal metabolism issues, they classified the drugs as either low-, medium-, or high-risk with a special category for situations where multiple antipsychotics were considered or administered.

A regression analysis associated the level of metabolic risk from antipsychotics to the patient’s baseline risk, determined through a medical history of diabetes, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, or obesity.

“Compared with patients of normal weight or who were underweight according to body mass index, obese patients were less likely to receive antipsychotics with high or medium risk of causing metabolic abnormalities,” explains Li.

“However, having preexisting metabolic conditions, such as diabetes, hyperlipidemia, or hypertension, had little effect on physicians' choice of antipsychotics with regard to metabolic risk properties.”

The study’s authors believe that continued research is necessary in order to understand how health professionals currently figure preexisting metabolic dysfunction into the picture. Comorbidity of disease with mental health disorders is high. Make sure to speak to your doctor about the effects of medication on preexisting conditions.

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Review Date: 
December 12, 2011
Last Updated:
December 14, 2011