Hypopituitarism in the elderly: a narrative review on clinical management of hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal, hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axes dysfunction
Curtò, L.; Trimarchi, F.
Journal of Endocrinological Investigation 39(10): 1115-1124
ISSN/ISBN: 1720-8386 PMID: 27209187 DOI: 10.1007/s40618-016-0487-8
Hypopituitarism is an uncommon and under-investigated endocrine disorder in old age since signs and symptoms are unspecific and, at least in part, can be attributed to the physiological effects of aging and related co-morbidities. Clinical presentation is often insidious being characterized by non-specific manifestations, such as weight gain, fatigue, low muscle strength, bradipsychism, hypotension or intolerance to cold. In these circumstances, hypopituitarism is a rarely life-threatening condition, but evolution may be more dramatic as a result of pituitary apoplexy, or when a serious condition of adrenal insufficiency suddenly occurs. Clinical presentation depends on the effects that each pituitary deficit can cause, and on their mutual relationship, but also, inevitably, it depends on the severity and duration of the deficit itself, as well as on the general condition of the patient. Indeed, indications and methods of hormone replacement therapy must include the need to normalize the endocrine profile without contributing to the worsening of intercurrent diseases, such as those of glucose and bone metabolism, and the cardiovascular system, or to the increasing cancer risk. Hormonal requirements of elderly patients are reduced compared to young adults, but a prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment of pituitary deficiencies are strongly recommended, also in this age range.