Drug-induced lithium toxicity in the elderly: a population-based study

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2004 May;52(5):794-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2004.52221.x.


Objectives: To study the association between hospital admission for lithium toxicity and the use of diuretics, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, and nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in the elderly.

Design: Population-based nested case-control study.

Setting: Ontario, Canada.

Participants: Ontario residents aged 66 and older treated with lithium.

Measurements: Estimated relative risk of hospital admission for lithium toxicity.

Results: From January 1992 to December 2001, 10,615 elderly patients continuously receiving lithium were identified, of whom 413 (3.9%) were admitted to the hospital at least once for lithium toxicity. After adjustment for potential confounders, a dramatically increased risk of lithium toxicity was seen within a month of initiating treatment with a loop diuretic (relative risk (RR)=5.5, 95% confidence interval (CI)=1.9-16.1) or an ACE inhibitor (RR=7.6, 95% CI=2.6-22.0). Conversely, neither thiazide diuretics nor NSAIDs were independently associated with a significantly increased risk of hospitalization for lithium toxicity.

Conclusion: The use of loop diuretics or ACE inhibitors significantly increases the risk of hospitalization for lithium toxicity, particularly in naïve recipients.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors / administration & dosage
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors / adverse effects*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / adverse effects*
  • Benzothiadiazines
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Diuretics / administration & dosage
  • Diuretics / adverse effects*
  • Drug Interactions
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Lithium / pharmacokinetics
  • Lithium / therapeutic use
  • Lithium / toxicity*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Odds Ratio
  • Risk
  • Sodium Chloride Symporter Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Time Factors


  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Benzothiadiazines
  • Diuretics
  • Sodium Chloride Symporter Inhibitors
  • Lithium