An update on the medical consequences of anorexia nervosa

Carole Wehbe Chidiac
Current Opinion in Pediatrics 2019 March 14

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The diagnosis of anorexia nervosa is associated with the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder, mainly caused by medical complications.The purpose of this article is to review the common medical consequences of anorexia nervosa focusing on the special considerations related to children and adolescents and recent updates on the pathophysiology of these complications and their prognosis significance.

RECENT FINDINGS: The main findings were related to the diagnostic and prognostic value of hypokalaemia, QTc prolongation, hypoglycaemia and orthostatic changes. A new modality to evaluate the heart in anorexia nervosa was explored (2DSTE) as well. Bone mineral density (BMD) loss is one of the few nonreversible consequences of anorexia nervosa. BMD loss does not seem to be significantly related to sex or to cut-off low-weight parameters in teenagers with anorexia nervosa, but rather to the amount of weight loss they have experienced. Brain volume deficits might be another irreversible complication in adolescents with anorexia nervosa.

SUMMARY: It is crucial for any healthcare provider to be informed about the medical consequences of anorexia nervosa, not only because they can be devastating, but also because they can play an essential role in motivating patients to get treated.

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