Medical findings in 1,026 consecutive adult inpatient-residential eating disordered patients.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

OBJECTIVE: Eating disorders are associated with multiple medical complications. We report contemporary medical data, for newly admitted adult inpatient and residential level of care patients. METHOD: Medical records of a transdiagnostic sample of 1,026 patients, with eating disorders, were retrospectively reviewed for the presence of a broad array of medical complications at time of admission. The prevalence of physiologically relevant medical complications was assessed across major eating disorder categories. RESULTS: Of the patients, 93.6% were female, and they had an average age of 28.1 (SD = 10.1, range 17-69). The average admission body mass index was 16.1 (SD = 2.3). The prevalence of abnormal laboratory values varied by eating disorder subtype. In patients with anorexia nervosa-restricting subtype, 51.4% had low prealbumin, 36.1% were leukopenic, 34.3% had osteoporosis, 30.0% vitamin D deficiency, 16.8% metabolic alkalosis, 16.0% had hyponatremia, 14.2% hypokalemia, and 7.1% hypoglycemia. These patients had normal average QTc intervals. In patients with anorexia nervosa-binge purging subtype, 42.4% had hypokalemia, 33.3% metabolic alkalosis, osteoporosis in 21.1%, and they had longer QTc intervals (433.9 ms, p < .001). Only 6.0% of patients with anorexia nervosa had hypophosphatemia. Patients with bulimia nervosa demonstrated hypokalemia in 26.2%, and metabolic alkalosis in 23.4%; the QTc interval was longer than in AN-R patients (437.9 ms, p < .001), but still in the normal range. DISCUSSION: Numerous medical complications are associated with severe eating disorders. As the severity increases, the number of complications increase and are related to the presence or absence of purging behaviors.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Mehler, PS; Blalock, DV; Walden, K; Kaur, S; McBride, J; Walsh, K; Watts, J

Published Date

  • April 2018

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 51 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 305 - 313

PubMed ID

  • 29417593

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1098-108X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1002/eat.22830


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States