Analysis of the efficacy and safety of electroconvulsive therapy in elderly patients: a retrospective study in the Polish population
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Warszawski Uniwersytet Medyczny, Katedra i Klinika Psychiatrii
Instytut Psychiatrii i Neurologii, Zakład Farmakologii
Szpital Bielański w Warszawie
Warszawski Uniwersytet Medyczny, Wydział Lekarski
Uniwersytet SWPS, Instytut Psychologii
Instytut Psychiatrii i Neurologii w Warszawie, Oddział Chorób Afektywnych
Anna Antosik-Wójcińska   

Katedra i Klinika Psychiatryczna, Warszawski Uniwersytet Medyczny, Nowowiejska 27, 00-665 Warszawa
Submission date: 2020-03-22
Final revision date: 2020-10-26
Acceptance date: 2021-01-05
Online publication date: 2022-08-31
Publication date: 2022-08-31
Psychiatr Pol 2022;56(4):767–785
The aim of the study was to assess the efficacy and safety of electroconvulsive therapy in a population ≥ 65 years old.

The study was naturalistic, retrospective. The study group included 65 patients, women and men, hospitalized in the departments of the Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology and undergoing ECT treatment. The authors analyzed the course of 615 ECT procedures performed in 2015–2019. The effectiveness of ECT was assessed using the CGI-S scale. Safety was assessed by analyzing side effects of the therapy, taking into account the somatic diseases in the study group.

As many as 94% of patients initially met the drug resistance criteria. In the study group, no serious complications such as death, life-threatening condition, necessity to be hospitalized in another ward or permanent health impairment were reported. In total, in the whole group, adverse effects were reported in 47. 7% of older patients, in the majority of cases (88%) they were of slight intensity and resolved without any particular intervention. The most frequently observed side effect of ECT was an increase in blood pressure (55. 4% of patients). Four patients did not complete ECT therapy due to side effects. In the majority of patients (86. 2%) at least 8 ECT treatments were performed. ECT turned out to be an effective method of treatment in the population of patients over 65 years of age – response to treatment was found in 76. 92% and remission in 49. 23% of the study group. The severity of the disease according to the CGI-S scale was on average 5. 54 before and 2. 67 after the ECT treatment.

Tolerance of ECT is worse after 65 years than in younger age groups. Most of the side effects are associated with underlying somatic diseases, mainly cardiovascular problems. This does not change the fact that ECT therapy is highly effective in this population and can be a very good alternative to pharmacotherapy, which, in this age group, is often ineffective or causes side-effects.