The use of valproate in an elderly population with affective symptoms.
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Little is known about the efficacy and tolerability of valproate in the elderly population with affective disorders. This pharmacoepidemiologic study was undertaken to determine the side effect profile and efficacy of valproate in an elderly population with psychiatric symptomatology.This was a retrospective chart review of all elderly inpatients at McLean Hospital who received valproate between May 8, 1989, and May 8, 1992. Charts were reviewed to determine gender, discharge diagnosis, indication for the agent, and length of time on each medication. Charts were also reviewed for abnormalities in liver function tests, blood cell dyscrasias, sedation, nausea and vomiting, weight gain, impairment of cognition, tremor, and hair loss. The efficacy of the medication was also determined.Thirty-five elderly subjects who suffered from an affective disorder and who had received valproate were identified. The mean age was 71.3 years. The mean length of time the patient received valproate was 32.7 days. The mean dose was 743 mg/day, and the mean blood drug level was 52.9 mg/L. The valproate was rated as efficacious in 18 (62%) of the 29 patients who had had an adequate drug trial at discharge. Overall the medication was well tolerated. There were no reports of liver function test abnormalities. One patient experienced transient leukopenia. Other adverse events included two reports of nausea, two reports of sedation, and one complaint of confusion. None of the variables examined were found to be statistically significant in regard to efficacy.Valproate was well tolerated and efficacious in this elderly population with affective disorders. Further controlled studies are needed to confirm our results.