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Risk factors for cardiovascular disease in patients with anorexia nervosa.

BACKGROUND: hypercholesterolemia, hypercortisolemia and low levels of essential fatty acids, oestrogens and antioxidant vitamins are more prevalent in patients with anorexia nervosa (AN) than in the general population.

OBJECTIVE: This study aims (1) to compare cardiovascular risk parameters in-patients with AN and controls, and (2) to compare the parameters in-patients on admission and at four month follow up.

METHODS: Blood samples and anthropometry were taken from patients with AN on admission (N=30) and matched controls (N=30). Twenty one patients were re-tested after four months of treatment.

RESULTS: Total cholesterol, LDL, Apo B and fibrinogen concentrations were elevated in patients on admission compared with controls, while retinol and tocopherol were decreased. Low levels of T3, T4 and estradiol were correlated with increased cholesterol values. After treatment there was a tendency for most of the abnormal markers to normalise. However, HDL levels decreased leaving patients with an undesirable lipid profile.

CONCLUSIONS: Cardiovascular disease is not commonly a problem in these patients, however, with age, and without treatment, the cardiovascular risk may increase.

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