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MINERVA GASTROENTEROLOGICA E DIETOLOGICA

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Minerva Gastroenterologica e Dietologica 2002 September;48(3):247-64

language: English

Treatment of protein-energy malnutrition in chronic disorders in the elderly

Cederholm T.


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Protein-energy malnutrition (PEM) is a common complication to chronic disease and is associated with increased morbidity and mortality. The causal connections between malnutrition and a poorer prognosis are complex. It cannot automatically be inferred that nutritional support will improve the clinical course of elderly patients with wasting disorders, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic heart failure, stroke, dementia and multiple disorders or after hip fracture. The execution of nutrition treatment studies in chronically ill patients is linked to several methodological problems, including no generally accepted definition of PEM, uncertain patient compliance with supplementation, and a wide range of outcome variables. However, treatment studies indicate that dietary supplements, either alone or in combination with hormonal treatment, may have positive effects. Nutritional therapy given to patients at nutritional risk in conjunction with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease may improve respiratory function. When administered to elderly patients with multiple disorders, diet therapy may improve their functional capacity and given to elderly women after hip fractures nutritional therapy may speed up the rehabilitation process. Nevertheless, there is still a great need for randomised, controlled long-term studies of the effects of nutritional intervention programs for the chronically ill and frail elderly with a focus on determining clinically relevant outcomes.

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