One of the main advantages of newer, 'atypical,' drugs for schizophrenia is that they are thought to have less of a risk of serious side effects such as heart attacks. However, a study of 277,000 people in Tennesee by researchers at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine found that the newer drugs actually led to a greater risk of a heart attack than older medication. The study used files from the Tennesee Medicaid system which is aimed at providing health insurance for people on lower incomes. It found that users of the drugs had twice the rate of fatal heart attacks of non-users and the higher the dose of the drugs the greater the risk. Once patients stopped taking the drugs the risk of a heart attack faded. Although the risks may be outweighed by the benefits for people suffering from schizophrenia the drugs are also prescribed for people with dementia, attention-deficity hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder and depression where - despite equal risks - there is much less evidence about their effectiveness.
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