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CMAJ. 2005 Mar 15;172(6):773-80.

An approach to the management of unintentional weight loss in elderly people.

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  • 1Division of General Internal Medicine and Clinical Epidemiology, University Health Network, Toronto, Ont. shabbir.alibhai@uhn.on.ca

Abstract

Unintentional weight loss, or the involuntary decline in total body weight over time, is common among elderly people who live at home. Weight loss in elderly people can have a deleterious effect on the ability to function and on quality of life and is associated with an increase in mortality over a 12-month period. A variety of physical, psychological and social conditions, along with age-related changes, can lead to weight loss, but there may be no identifiable cause in up to one-quarter of patients. We review the incidence and prevalence of weight loss in elderly patients, its impact on morbidity and mortality, the common causes of unintentional weight loss and a clinical approach to diagnosis. Screening tools to detect malnutrition are highlighted, and nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic strategies to minimize or reverse weight loss in older adults are discussed.

PMID:
15767612
PMCID:
PMC552892
DOI:
10.1503/cmaj.1031527
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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