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Intramuscular ziprasidone treatment of acute psychotic agitation in elderly patients with schizophrenia.

OBJECTIVE: Intramuscular (i.m.) ziprasidone treatment has been shown to be effective and well tolerated in reducing the symptoms of acute psychosis in adults. Few data are available as to safety in the elderly. The growing utilization of health services by elderly psychiatric patients warrants an evaluation in this population.

METHOD: Consecutive elderly patients (60 years of and older) admitted to a psychogeriatric ward in a large, university-affiliated tertiary psychiatric center were treated by i.m. ziprasidone for acute psychotic agitation. Patients received three days of flexible-dose i.m. ziprasidone. After an initial dose of 10-20 mg, a subsequent dose of 10-20 mg could be given after 12 hours if needed (maximum daily dose: 40 mg).

RESULTS: All treatment emergent side effects and adverse events along with the investigators' assessments of severity were systematically recorded as the primary outcome. The Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS) and the Behavioral Activity Rating Scale (BARS) were the secondary outcomes. Twenty-one patients, six male and 15 female, mean age 71.4 +/- 1.3 years (range: 60-81 years) were enrolled. All had completed the three days i.m. ziprasidone treatment. There was one adverse event in a patient with untreated benign prostatic hypertrophy who developed urinary retention. Two side effects of mild severity that resolved spontaneously were observed: blurred vision and sedation. The BPRS decreased by 26.8 points after three days of treatment (p = 0.001). The BARS score, reflecting agitation, decreased significantly after each injection, reaching maximal decrease of 2.14 points at completion of study (p = 0.001).

CONCLUSION: Intramuscular ziprasidone in this series of elderly patients suggests acceptable safety and efficacy in the management of acute psychotic agitation among elderly patients with schizophrenia.

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