The research, which uses information from the QResearch database - a joint not-for-profit project run by the University of Nottingham and EMIS - looks at the risks of adverse outcomes such as stroke and epilepsy or seizure, in older people using antidepressants.
The study is part of an ongoing research programme investigating the safety of drugs commonly prescribed in primary care.
Depression is a common condition in older people, and antidepressants, particularly new generation antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are widely used, though little is known about their safety when used by older people.
A research team from the universities of Nottingham and East Anglia investigated the association between antidepressant treatment and the risks of a number of potentially life-threatening outcomes in older people. The team used the QResearch database of anonymised patient records to examine the case histories of almost 61,000 UK patients aged 65 and over diagnosed with depression.
The study concludes that SSRIs and other more modern antidepressants are associated with an increased risk of severe adverse outcomes in older people, when compared with older, tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs).
The authors advise further research is needed to confirm their findings, and recommend that the risks and benefits of different antidepressants should be carefully evaluated when prescribing to older people.
Read the full paper at www.bmj.com