Weight Loss and Acetylcholinesterase Inhibitors
Many factors can affect a nursing home resident’s appetite. After review of several acetylcholinesterase inhibitor medications including Exelon (rivastigamine) patches, Aricept (donepezil), and Razadyne (galantamine) package inserts, it was noted that anorexia and weight loss are listed as adverse reactions. In a recent study on acetylcholinesterase inhibitors it was noted that, “to some extent this weight loss may be dose-dependent.” The authors reported the case of a patient with dementia and Parkinson’s disease who lost weight when treated with galantamine and regained weight when the dosage was reduced. The study reported “eight cases of significant weight loss in patients with dementia who were treated with acetylcholinesterase inhibitors five of who had no nausea or other gastrointestinal adverse effects.”
In conclusion, it is important for the clinical team to look at all factors when a resident is experiencing involuntary weight loss. If the resident is receiving an acetylcholinesterase medication, switching to an alternate medication or decreasing the dose of the current medication may offer significant benefits. Your AlixaRx Clinical Pharmacist is available to answer questions related to acetylcholinesterase inhibitors and assist with change of condition medication reviews for your residents experiencing involuntary weight loss.
This article was originally published in our monthly issue of From the Front Lines – a monthly publication that shares best practices and medication-related challenges faced by “front line” staff in long-term care and post-acute (LTCPAC) facilities.