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Neurological Sciences

Sciences Neurologiques


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On-line publication of the contents and abstracts is supported by
an educational grant from Janssen-Ortho Inc.

Weight Gain in Epileptic Patients During Treatment with Valproic Acid: a Retrospective Study

Céline L. Corman, Nathalie M. Leung and Alan H. Guberman

Abstract: Background: Weight gain has been recognized as a common adverse effect of valproic acid (VPA) that leads to discontinuation in some patients but its incidence and correlates have been rarely studied. Methods: We have analyzed the records retrospectively and interviewed 70 adult patients attending an epilepsy clinic on VPA mono- or polytherapy followed over a median of 27 months (range 3-189), as well as 20 patients on carbamazepine (CBZ) monotherapy. Patients were divided into non-weight gainers (< 5% baseline body weight), mild-moderate weight gainers (5-10% body weight) and marked weight gainers (> 10% body weight). The following variables were statistically analyzed to determine their relationship to weight gain: gender, age, body mass index, drug dose, personal or family history of obesity and monotherapy versus polytherapy. Results: Seventy-one percent of the VPA group were weight gainers versus 43% in the CBZ group. A weight gain of more than 4 kg in 70% of the VPA group was observed. The weight gain was often sustained and frequently socially significant to the patients. Patients below or within normal range body mass index prior to the start of VPA experienced the most severe percentage weight gain. From the structured patient interviews, patients with no personal history of weight problems experienced the greatest initial weight increase. Conclusion: Strategies should be devised to help patients avoid weight gain when starting on VPA, especially if they are not already overweight.

Can. J. Neurol. Sci. 1997; 24: 240-244

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