Lithium use in octogenarians

Authors

  • Sabina Fahy,

    Corresponding author
    1. Senior Registrar in Psychiatry of Old Age, St Camillus' Hospital, Shelbourne Road, Limerick, Ireland
    • Senior Registrar in Psychiatry of Old Age, Department of Psychiatry of Old Age, St Camillus' Hospital, Limerick, Ireland.
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  • Brian A. Lawlor

    1. Professor of Psychiatry for the Elderly at Trinity College Dublin, and St James's and St Patrick's Hospitals,Dublin, Ireland
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Abstract

Objectives

To assess the tolerability and side-effect profile of lithium use in a group of octogenarians attending a specialized lithium clinic.

Methods

This is a cross-sectional study looking at all patients of eighty years and over attending a lithium clinic. Charts were examined to assess renal function, thyroid function and level of side-effects during their course of lithium treatment in order to assess the tolerability of this medication in octogenarians.

Results

Twelve patients of 80 years and over (with an average age of 83.6 years) were taking lithium for an average period of 53.7 months. They had a mean serum level of 0.42 mmol/l. No patient had to discontinue lithium therapy because of side-effects, even though some patients did develop transient abnormalities of renal function. One patient developed diabetes insipidus. One female patient developed hypothyroidism.

Conclusions

Lithium was well tolerated and was administered safely to this cohort of octogenarians. Monitoring of serum lithium levels and kidney and thyroid function should preferably be done in the setting of a specialized lithium clinic. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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