Anorexia Nervosa

Medical Complications of Anorexia Nervosa

Internal Medicine Review
By Philip S. Mehler, MD, FACP, FAED, CEDS


Anorexia nervosa (AN) is a mental illness which is associated with many different medical complications. A comprehensive medical literature review of the medical complications of AN was undertaken using relevant search terms on PubMed to prepare this manuscript. We demonstrate that every body system is adversely affected by the ravages of AN. As the body mass index becomes progressively lower, the number and acuity of these medical complications increase.  No body system is ultimately immune to medical complications, which most commonly impact the cardiac, gastrointestinal, and endocrine systems. AN has the highest mortality of any psychiatric illness.  About half of the excess mortality risk associated with AN is due to the medical complications which are inextricably tied to AN.  Nutritional rehabilitation and weight restoration attenuate and reverse the long-term medical complications.

Written by

Philip S. Mehler, MD, FACP, FAED, CEDS

Dr. Philip S. Mehler began his career at Denver Health more than 35 years ago and was formerly its Chief of Internal Medicine and then Denver Health’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO) until he was promoted…

ACUTE Earns Prestigious Center of Excellence Designation from Anthem
In 2018, the ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders & Severe Malnutrition at Denver Health was honored by Anthem Health as a Center of Excellence for Medical Treatment of Severe and Extreme Eating Disorders. ACUTE is the first medical unit ever to achieve this designation in the field of eating disorders. It comes after a rigorous review process.

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