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J Nutr Health Aging. 2007 Mar-Apr;11(2):195-8.

Anorexia of aging in long term care: is dronabinol an effective appetite stimulant?--a pilot study.

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1
Division of Geriatric Medicine, Saint Louis University, 1402, S. Grand Blvd, Rm M238, St Louis, MO 63104, USA. wilsonmg@slu.edu

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Anorexia and subsequent weight loss increase the risk of death in long term care (LTC) residents. In patients who fail to respond to nutritional intervention, orexigenic drugs are sometimes prescribed. There is limited data regarding the safety and efficacy of these drugs in older adults.

OBJECTIVE:

To examine the effect of a 12-week course of dronabinol on LTC residents with anorexia and significant weight loss.

DESIGN, SETTING, PARTICIPANTS:

Retrospective observational study on residents in five LTC facilities in a major metropolitan area.

RESULTS:

Twenty-eight subjects (22F, 6M) were involved in the study. Mean age 79.5 +/- 19.8 years (range 46-98 y). Mean body weight, serum albumin and serum prealbumin at baseline were 105.7 +/- 24.7 lbs, 3.39 +/- 0.47 g/dl and 22.15 +/- 7.92 mg/dl respectively. 15 subjects (53.5%) gained weight on dronabinol, of which 10 (67%) gained more than 5 lbs and 6(40%) gained more than 10 lbs. Five (33%) subjects gained less than 5 lbs. Residents who lost weight on dronabinol were younger than those who gained weight (70.9 +/- 5.62 y and 90.8 +/- 7.84 y respectively; p = 0.007) Overall, the mean weight gain on dronabinol was 3 +/- 8.01 lbs (p=0.2). Eleven subjects lost weight (mean loss 3 +/- 2.6 lbs). Of the subjects who lost weight 7 (64%) died compared with 4 (26%) in the subgroup who gained weight.

CONCLUSIONS:

Dronabinol therapy was well tolerated. Overall, there was a trend toward weight gain in LTC residents treated with 12 weeks of dronabinol. Failure to respond to dronabinol may indicate increased risk of death.

PMID:
17435963
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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