Poor monitoring for metabolic syndrome in people with learning disability taking antipsychotic medication


Anti-psychotic medications comprise between 30–50% of all psychotropics prescribed for people with learning disabilities as reported in this WELD post:

This study set out to explore metabolic syndrome (a group of risk factors that occur together and increase the risk for coronary artery disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes in people with learning disabilities who have been prescribed antipsychotic medication.

An audit of 32 patients was carried out.

  • Height, weight and body mass index was recorded in 34 % prior to treatment reducing to 22% at three months.
  • Blood pressure was recorded in 6% at baseline with no measurement during treatment.
  • Plasma glucose and plasma cholesterol were measured in 40% on initiation but decreased to 33% at three months.
  • 21% received four monthly monitoring of biochemical parameters with 25% having an annual monitoring of all parameters.

The authors suggest that metabolic syndrome in people with learning disability being treated with antipsychotic medication was inconsistent at best. A proportion of patients may have been monitored in primary care, but they suggest that action is needed to improve the standard of metabolic syndrome detection. They suggest the development and application of national criteria for monitoring the prescription of antipsychotic medication

Monitoring for metabolic syndrome in people with intellectual disability on antipsychotic medication, Baburaj R & El Tahir M in Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities 5, 3, 38-44

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John Northfield

After qualifying as a social worker, John worked in community learning disability teams before getting involved in a number of long-stay hospital closure programmes, working to develop individual plans for people moving into their own homes. He worked for BILD, helping to develop the Quality Network and was editorial lead for the NHS electronic library learning disabilities specialist collection. This led him to found the Learning Disabilities Elf site with Andre Tomlin as a way of making the evidence accessible to practitioners in health and social care. Most recently he has worked as part of Mencap's national quality team and also been involved in a number of national website developments, including the General Medical Council's learning disabilities site.

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