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      Lithium side effects and toxicity: prevalence and management strategies

      International Journal of Bipolar Disorders

      Springer Berlin Heidelberg

      Lithium, Side effects, Renal function, Thyroid, Nephrotoxicity

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          Abstract

          Despite its virtually universal acceptance as the gold standard in treating bipolar disorder, prescription rates for lithium have been decreasing recently. Although this observation is multifactorial, one obvious potential contributor is the side effect and toxicity burden associated with lithium. Additionally, side effect concerns assuredly play some role in lithium nonadherence. This paper summarizes the knowledge base on side effects and toxicity and suggests optimal management of these problems. Thirst and excessive urination, nausea and diarrhea and tremor are rather common side effects that are typically no more than annoying even though they are rather prevalent. A simple set of management strategies that involve the timing of the lithium dose, minimizing lithium levels within the therapeutic range and, in some situations, the prescription of side effect antidotes will minimize the side effect burden for patients. In contrast, weight gain and cognitive impairment from lithium tend to be more distressing to patients, more difficult to manage and more likely to be associated with lithium nonadherence. Lithium has adverse effects on the kidneys, thyroid gland and parathyroid glands, necessitating monitoring of these organ functions through periodic blood tests. In most cases, lithium-associated renal effects are relatively mild. A small but measurable percentage of lithium-treated patients will show progressive renal impairment. Infrequently, lithium will need to be discontinued because of the progressive renal insufficiency. Lithium-induced hypothyroidism is relatively common but easily diagnosed and treated. Hyperparathyroidism from lithium is a relatively more recently recognized phenomenon.

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          Most cited references 115

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          2012 Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers' National Poison Data System (NPDS): 30th Annual Report.

          This is the 30(th) Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers' (AAPCC) National Poison Data System (NPDS). As of July 1, 2012, 57 of the nation's poison centers (PCs) uploaded case data automatically to NPDS. The upload interval was 7.58 [6.30, 11.22] (median [25%, 75%]) min, creating a near real-time national exposure and information database and surveillance system. We analyzed the case data tabulating specific indices from NPDS. The methodology was similar to that of previous years. Where changes were introduced, the differences are identified. Poison center cases with medical outcomes of death were evaluated by a team of 34 medical and clinical toxicologist reviewers using an ordinal scale of 1-6 to assess the Relative Contribution to Fatality (RCF) of the exposure to the death. In 2012, 3,373,025 closed encounters were logged by NPDS: 2,275,141 human exposures, 66,440 animal exposures, 1,025,547 information calls, 5,679 human confirmed nonexposures, and 218 animal confirmed nonexposures. Total encounters showed a 6.9% decline from 2011, while healthcare facility (HCF) exposure calls increased by 1.2%. All information calls decreased by 14.8% and HCF information calls decreased by 1.7%, medication identification requests (Drug ID) decreased by 22.0%, and human exposures reported to US PCs decreased by 2.5%. Human exposures with less serious outcomes have decreased by 3.7% per year since 2008, while those with more serious outcomes (moderate, major, or death) have increased by 4.6% per year since 2000. The top five substance classes most frequently involved in all human exposures were analgesics (11.6%), cosmetics/personal care products (7.9%), household cleaning substances (7.2%), sedatives/hypnotics/antipsychotics (6.1%), and foreign bodies/toys/miscellaneous (4.1%). Analgesic exposures as a class increased the most rapidly (8,780 calls/year) over the last 12 years. The top five most common exposures in children aged 5 years or less were cosmetics/ personal care products (13.9%), analgesics (9.9%), household cleaning substances (9.7%), foreign bodies/toys/ miscellaneous (7.0%), and topical preparations (6.3%). Drug identification requests comprised 54.4% of all information calls. NPDS documented 2,937 human exposures resulting in death with 2,576 human fatalities judged related (RCF of 1-Undoubtedly responsible, 2-Probably responsible, or 3-Contributory). These data support the continued value of PC expertise and need for specialized medical toxicology information to manage the more severe exposures, despite a decrease in calls involving less severe exposures. Unintentional and intentional exposures continue to be a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in the US. The near real-time, always current status of NPDS represents a national public health resource to collect and monitor US exposure cases and information calls. The continuing mission of NPDS is to provide a nationwide infrastructure for public health surveillance for all types of exposures, public health event identification, resilience response, and situational awareness tracking. NPDS is a model system for the nation and global public health.
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            Treatment of patients with essential tremor.

            Essential tremor is a common movement disorder. Tremor severity and handicap vary widely, but most patients with essential tremor do not receive a diagnosis and hence are never treated. Furthermore, many patients abandon treatment because of side-effects or poor efficacy. A newly developed algorithm, based on the logarithmic relation between tremor amplitude and clinical tremor ratings, can be used to compare the magnitude of effect of available treatments. Drugs with established efficacy (propranolol and primidone) produce a mean tremor reduction of about 50%. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) in the thalamic nucleus ventrointermedius or neighbouring subthalamic structures reduces tremor by about 90%. However, no controlled trials of DBS have been done, and the best target is still uncertain. Better drugs are needed, and controlled trials are required to determine the safety and efficacy of DBS in the nucleus ventrointermedius and neighbouring subthalamic structures. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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              A placebo-controlled 18-month trial of lamotrigine and lithium maintenance treatment in recently depressed patients with bipolar I disorder.

              The anticonvulsant lamotrigine was previously shown to be effective for bipolar depression. This study assessed the efficacy and tolerability of lamotrigine and lithium compared with placebo for the prevention of mood episodes in bipolar disorder. During an 8- to 16-week open-label phase, lamotrigine (titrated to 200 mg/day) was added to current therapy for currently or recently depressed DSM-IV-defined bipolar I outpatients (N = 966) and concomitant drugs were gradually withdrawn. Patients stabilized on open-label treatment (N = 463) were then randomly assigned to lamotrigine (50, 200, or 400 mg/day; N = 221), lithium (0.8-1.1 mEq/L; N = 121), or placebo (N = 121) monotherapy for up to 18 months. The primary outcome measure was time from randomization to intervention (addition of pharmacotherapy) for any mood episode (depressive, manic, hypomanic, or mixed). Data were gathered from September 1997 to August 2001. Time to intervention for any mood episode was statistically superior (p = .029) for both lamotrigine and lithium compared with placebo-median survival times were 200, 170, and 93 days, respectively. Intervention for depression was more frequent than for mania by a factor of nearly 3:1. Lamotrigine was statistically superior to placebo at prolonging the time to intervention for a depressive episode (p = .047). The proportions of patients who were intervention-free for depression at 1 year were lamotrigine 57%, lithium 46%, and placebo 45%. Lithium was statistically superior to placebo at prolonging the time to intervention for a manic or hypomanic episode (p = .026). The proportions of patients who were intervention-free for mania at 1 year were lamotrigine 77%, lithium 86%, and placebo 72%. Headache was the most frequent adverse event for all 3 treatment groups. Lamotrigine and lithium were superior to placebo for the prevention of mood episodes in bipolar I patients, with lamotrigine predominantly effective against depression and lithium predominantly effective against mania.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                mgitlin@mednet.ucla.edu
                Journal
                Int J Bipolar Disord
                Int J Bipolar Disord
                International Journal of Bipolar Disorders
                Springer Berlin Heidelberg (Berlin/Heidelberg )
                2194-7511
                17 December 2016
                17 December 2016
                2016
                : 4
                Affiliations
                Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, USA
                Article
                68
                10.1186/s40345-016-0068-y
                5164879
                27900734
                © The Author(s) 2016

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

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                © The Author(s) 2016

                lithium, side effects, renal function, thyroid, nephrotoxicity

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