Background Patients with late-stage Huntington’s disease (HD) are often treated with a variety of drugs. However, especially psychotropic medication increases the risk of side-effects, adversely affecting quality of life.
Aims To report the prevalence of polypharmacy in a long-term care population of patients with advanced HD, focusing on a combination of psychotropic medication influencing the dopaminergic, serotonergic and GABAergic systems.
Methods Cross-sectional data on medication prescriptions were obtained for all 65 HD patients residing in a specialised Huntington’s Disease Centre in the Netherlands.
Results In these patients, 43% had polypharmacy and 69% used two or more psychotropic drugs. Psychotropic polypharmacy was not related to the age group (p = 0.31) or to the Total Functional Capacity score (0.20). Of the patients prescribed psychotropic drugs 94% used dopaminergic drugs, 66% serotonergic drugs, and 47% used GABAergic drugs. Of these patients, 38% used psychotropic drugs from two different groups. A combination of dopaminergic and serotonergic drugs was used most frequently (68%).
Conclusions The majority of the HD patients in this study use psychotropic polypharmacy with the associated risk of detrimental side-effects.
- Nursing home
- tranquillising agents
- antidepressive agents.