Distressing behavioural symptoms, particularly agitation and aggressiveness, remain a difficult problem in everyday clinical practice in the treatment of multimorbid patients with dementia. Clozapine may be an effective therapeutic alternative in this context.
In a retrospective study, patients who had a diagnosis of dementia and had been treated in a specialized geriatric psychiatry unit with clozapine between August 2018 and February 2022 were included, and medical records were systematically reviewed. The Clinical Global Impressions Scale was used to assess improvement, and the Pittsburgh Agitation Scale for symptom reduction. In addition, side effects and clinical features were documented in detail.
A total of 31 patients (median age 82 years) were identified with a mean clozapine dose of 47.2 (SD 35.6) mg. A total of 13 patients tolerated clozapine very well, 10 showed tolerable side effects, and in 10 patients side effects were the reason for stopping clozapine. Behavioural symptoms improved significantly, as indicated by the assessment scores.
In summary, clozapine was effective and well tolerated in 23 patients, suggesting that low-dose clozapine may help to alleviate the suffering of difficult-to-treat multimorbid patients with advanced dementia and their caregivers. However, particular attention should be paid to adverse drug reactions, especially in patients with cardiovascular and pulmonary impairment.