Savvy Psychopharmacology

Recommendations for lab monitoring of atypical antipsychotics

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HbA1c and fasting plasma glucose levels should be measured at baseline and throughout the course of treatment. Obtain another set of measurements at 3 months, then annually thereafter, unless the patient develops type 2 diabetes mellitus.2

Obtaining a fasting lipid panel at baseline and periodically throughout the course of treatment is recommended. After baseline measurement, another panel should be taken at 3 months and annually thereafter. Guidelines of the American Diabetes Association recommend a fasting lipid panel every 5 years—however, good clinical practice dictates obtaining a lipid panel annually.

Managing metabolic side effects

Assess whether the patient can benefit from a lower dosage of current medication, switching to an antipsychotic with less of a risk of metabolic disturbance, or from discontinuation of therapy. In most cases, aim to use monotherapy because polypharmacy contributes to an increased risk of side effects.10

Weight management. Recommend nutrition counseling and physical activity for all patients who are overweight. Referral to a health care professional or to a program with expertise in weight management also might be beneficial.2 Include family members and significant others in the patient’s education when possible.

Impaired fasting glucose. Encourage a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet with high intake of vegetables. Patients should obtain at least 30 minutes of physical activity, five times a week. Referral to a diabetes self-management class also is appropriate. Consider referral to a primary care physician or a clinician with expertise in diabetes.2

Impaired fasting lipids. Encourage your patients to adhere to a heart-healthy diet that is low in saturated fats and to get adequate physical activity. Referral to a dietician and primary care provider for medical management of dyslipidemia might be appropriate.2

Related Resources

Drug Brand Names

Aripiprazole • Abilify
Asenapine • Saphris
Clonazepam • Klonopin
Clozapine • Clozaril
Fluoxetine • Prozac
Iloperidone • Fanapt
Lithium • Eskalith, Lithobid
Lurasidone • Latuda
Olanzapine • Zyprexa
Paliperidone • Invega
Quetiapine • Seroquel
Risperidone • Risperdal
Sertraline • Zoloft
Venlafaxine • Effexor
Ziprasidone • Geodon


The authors report no financial relationships with any of the manufacturers mentioned in this article or with manufacturers of competing products.

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