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Common dementia medication linked to harmful weight loss

Medication that is commonly used to treat dementia could result in harmful weight loss, and health professionals need to account for this risk, researchers said.

The study, from University of California San Francisco and published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Societ, looked at the national data of 3,377 patients who were over 65, diagnosed with dementia and either on cholinesterase inhibitors or other medications. 

It found that patients who received a new prescription for a cholinesterase inhibitor or other new chronic medication were more likely to have a 10lb (4.5kg) weight loss over a 12-month period, which is deemed a clinically significant and noticeable loss.

Reflecting on the results, Meera Sheffrin, the lead author and geriatrics fellow in the UCSF School of Medicine, said: "Clinicians should take into account the risk of weight loss when weighing the risks and benefits of prescribing cholinesterase inhibitors in patients with dementia.

"In addition, clinicians should monitor for weight loss if these medications are prescribed and consider discontinuing cholinesterase inhibitors if significant weight loss occurs," she added.