Long-term pharmacotherapy for obesity in elderly patients: a retrospective evaluation of medical records from a specialized obesity outpatient clinic.Drugs Aging. 2010 Jun 01; 27(6):497-506.DA
Obesity is a serious chronic disease and the prevalence of this condition is increasing among the elderly. Although the benefits of weight loss to improve control of associated diseases are well known in young adults, they are not in older patients. The use of anti-obesity drugs to promote weight loss is widespread in Brazil and other countries, and obesity specialists frequently prescribe medicines in doses and for durations previously unreported in the literature. Sibutramine, orlistat and amfepramone (diethylpropion) have been evaluated in clinical trials of more than 2 years' duration in adults, demonstrating safety and efficacy, but long-term studies in obesity treatment are absent for other drugs. The efficacy and safety of obesity pharmacotherapy among the elderly is unknown. To describe the experience of obesity pharmacotherapy in the elderly in a specialized obesity care setting in Brazil, with a focus on efficacy and safety. A retrospective evaluation was conducted on medical charts from an outpatient clinic of a specialized tertiary centre for the treatment of obesity. We included patients who had had at least one consultation between January and December 2007, were aged > or =60 years at the beginning of the treatment, had had at least 6 months of follow-up and had received a prescription of at least one potential weight-loss drug. Diagnoses reported on medical records were documented. Age, weight, height and body mass index (BMI) were recorded at admission, after 6, 12, 18 and 24 months, and at the last available visit. The medicines prescribed, together with the dose, duration of use, adverse effects and reasons for discontinuation, were documented. The group consisted of 44 women (86%) and 7 men (14%), with a mean +/- SD age of 65.2 +/- 4.5 years, weight of 95.3 +/- 12.5 kg and BMI of 38.5 +/- 4.3 kg/m2. The mean +/- SD time of follow-up was 39.3 +/- 26.4 months, and the mean weight loss was 6.65 kg (p < 0.01). After the first 6 months, the mean +/- SD weight loss was 5.7 +/- 3.8 kg (p < 0.0001). A smaller weight loss was seen between the 6th and 12th months, with no statistically significant change in weight thereafter. A weight loss of > or =5% was achieved by 64.71%, 63.64%, 62.16% and 69.70% in the 6th, 12th, 18th and 24th months, respectively, and a weight loss of > or =10% was achieved by 17.65%, 34.09%, 32.43% and 39.39% in the 6th, 12th, 18th and 24th months, respectively. The medicines prescribed were sibutramine, orlistat, fluoxetine, sertraline, topiramate, fenproporex, mazindol and amfepramone, alone or in combinations, concomitantly or sequentially. The reasons for discontinuation were lack of response (n = 13), loss of response (development of tolerance) [n = 11], lack of adherence (n = 14) and adverse effects (n = 14). One episode of atrial flutter occurred in a patient taking fenproporex. The weight-loss medications were generally well tolerated, and only transient adverse events were reported. Long-term pharmacotherapy for obesity was effective and well tolerated by this group of elderly patients.