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Potential Role of Mirtazapine in Underweight Older Adults

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Changes in body weight can affect the overall health of an older patient and should not be considered a normal part of the aging process. In particular, weight loss can lead to numerous adverse health outcomes affecting daily activities, loss of functional status, and increased mortality. Approximately 15% to 20% of older adults experience unintentional weight loss and require intervention to maintain quality of life. Currently, there are no pharmacologic agents indicated to treat unintentional weight loss in older adults; however, several medications may aid by stimulating appetite and/or promoting weight gain. In recent years, mirtazapine has gained attention not only for its antidepressant effects, but also for its potential benefits in underweight patients. This agent has been found to increase appetite and weight in adults compared with placebo and other antidepressants, but further clinical investigation is necessary to determine the role of mirtazapine in the older underweight population.
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Keywords: Aging; Antidepressant; BMI = Body mass index; CRCA = Cancerrelated cachexia/anorexia; Decreased appetite; Geriatrics; HDL = High-density lipoproteins; Increased appetite; LDL = Low-density lipoproteins; MNA = Mini Nutritional Assessment; Mirtazapine; Psychiatry; SNAQ = Simplified Nutrition Assessment Questionnaire; TC = Total cholesterol; TG = Triglycerides; Weight gain; Weight loss

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 February 2014

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  • The Consultant Pharmacist® is the official peer-reviewed journal of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists. It is dedicated exclusively to the medication needs of the elderly in all settings, including adult day care, ambulatory care, assisted living, community, hospice, and nursing facilities. This award-winning journal is a member benefit of ASCP. Individuals who are not members and wish to receive The Consultant Pharmacist® will want to consider joining ASCP.
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