Rationale and Comments
Unintentional weight loss is a common problem for medically ill or frail elderly. Although high-calorie supplements increase weight in older people, there is no evidence that they affect other important clinical outcomes, such as quality of life, mood, functional status, or survival. Use of megestrol acetate results in minimal improvements in appetite and weight gain, no improvement in quality of life or survival, and increased risk of thrombotic events, fluid retention, and death. In patients who take megestrol acetate, one in 12 will have an increase in weight and one in 23 will have an adverse event leading to death. The 2012 American Geriatric Society Beers criteria lists megestrol acetate and cyproheptadine as medications to avoid in older adults. Systematic reviews of cannabinoids, dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids, thalidomide, and anabolic steroids have not identified adequate evidence for the efficacy and safety of these agents for weight gain. Mirtazapine is likely to cause weight gain or increased appetite when used to treat depression, but there is little evidence to support its use to promote appetite and weight gain in the absence of depression.
- American Geriatrics Society
- Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
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