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Timmons, S,McCarthy, F,Duggan, J,Twomey, C
Irish Journal of Medical Science
Anticonvulsant use in elderly patients in long-term care units
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Background Elderly patients in long-term care units are frailer than their community-dwelling peers and may be more at risk from toxic side-effects of anticonvulsant medication at standard doses.Aim To examine the prescribing of anticonvulsants to patients in elderly care units.Methods Drug prescription sheets and case notes were reviewed. Serum anticonvulsant concentration, renal and liver profiles and albumin level were measured.Results Anticonvulsants were prescribed to twice as many male as female patients (32 vs 14%; p<0.03) and to 33% of those younger than 80 years of age versus 10% of those aged 80 years or older (p<0.0002). No patient had significant hypoalbuminaemia and routine measurement of serum anticonvulsant concentration did not indicate an alteration of dosage.Conclusions Anticonvulsants appear to be well tolerated in these patients. The younger age of those receiving anticonvulsants is inadequately explained by the characteristics of the patient cohort and may reflect a shift towards a younger age in patients requiring anticonvulsants due to increased mortality in this group.
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