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Elevated Liver Enzymes Common in Severe Anorexia Nervosa

Elevated AST, ALT linked to lower BMI, development of hypoglycemia, hypophosphatemia

THURSDAY, Sept. 10, 2015 (HealthDay News) — For adults with severe anorexia nervosa (AN), elevated liver enzymes are relatively common and are associated with lower body mass index (BMI) and hypoglycemia, according to research published online Sept. 8 in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

Elissa Rosen, M.D., from the University of Colorado in Denver, and colleagues retrospectively assessed electronic medical records to quantify the cumulative incidence of elevated aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) in 181 adults hospitalized for medical stabilization of severe AN.

The researchers found that AST and ALT were mildly and severely elevated in 27.6 and 35.4 percent of patients, respectively. Compared with the rest of the cohort, patients with severely elevated liver enzymes had a lower BMI, lower percentage ideal body weight, and lower prealbumin on admission (P < 0.001). Patients with severely elevated liver enzymes more frequently developed hypoglycemia and hypophosphatemia and experienced longer lengths of stay while hospitalized (P < 0.001).

“In summary, elevated AST and ALT were found to be quite common in our patient population with severe AN,” the authors write. “Complications of hepatic dysfunction in AN were hypoglycemia, hypophosphatemia, and edema formation which require close medical supervision as these can be serious adverse consequences of AN.”

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