Background We assessed the use of psychotropic drugs among persons with newly diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease (AD) from 2005–2011. We explored whether the proportion of persons diagnosed with AD in relation to the population aged 65 and over changed in the Finnish specific catchment areas in 2005–2011.
Methods The nationwide register-based MEDALZ cohort contains all community-dwellers with newly diagnosed AD (N = 70 718) in Finland in 2005–2011. Data was collected from the national prescription register, the causes of death register and the care register for health care.
Results The number of people diagnosed with AD in relation to the population aged 65 and over increased in all catchment areas during the period studied. Approximately half of the persons diagnosed had used psychotropics during the 2 years before and nearly 60% within two years after the diagnosis. The prevalence of antipsychotic and antidepressant use remained on the same level throughout the entire period. Among the psychotropics used, a change was observed only in benzodiazepines and related drugs, the use of which decreased after diagnosis (40.1 to 32.8%).
Conclusions Use of psychotropics is very common among persons with AD and use remained high in 2005–2011. However, the use of psychotropics should be reduced because of an increased risk of adverse events.