The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Health Canada updates safety profile of bipolar drug lithium, may up blood calcium

  • Print

TORONTO - Health Canada is updating safety information and treatment recommendations for lithium, a psychiatric drug widely used to treat mania.

The federal department says taking lithium carries a risk of high blood calcium, or hypercalcemia, and is sometimes associated with a hormone disorder known as hyperparathyroidism.

Lithium is used widely to treat mania associated with bipolar disorder. Available in Canada for more than 60 years, the medication is used to treat acute manic episodes and as a long-term therapy to reduce their frequency and severity.

Lithium therapy may cause high levels of calcium in the bloodstream, which may or may not be accompanied by an increased level of parathormone, causing hyperparathyroidism.

While in many cases the effects of high blood calcium and/or parathormone are unnoticeable or mild, in severe cases they can be life-threatening, Health Canada said Wednesday in an advisory. Severe hypercalcemia can cause coma and cardiac arrest.

Health Canada is working with pharmaceutical companies to update product labels for lithium drugs to include new warnings about the risk of hypercalcemia and hyperparathyroidism, and the need to consider calcium monitoring before and during therapy.

There are currently seven lithium-containing medications available in Canada: Apo-Lithium Carbonate, Carbolith, Lithane, Lithmax, Phl-Lithium Carbonate, Pms-Lithium Carbonate and Pms-Lithium Citrate.

Consumers taking lithium who have questions or concerns should speak to their health provider, Health Canada advises.

"Tell your doctor if you experience symptoms of hypercalcemia, which include fatigue, depression, mental confusion, nausea, vomiting, excessive thirst, appetite loss, abdominal pain, frequent urination, muscle and joint aches, and muscle weakness.

"Do not stop lithium treatment unless you have discussed the benefits and the risks of your treatment with your doctor."

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Kenney lashes out at Manitoba's “campaign of fear” on immigration

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
  • JOE.BRYKSA@FREEPRESS.MB.CA Local-(Standup photo)- Humming Around- A female ruby -throated hummingbird fly's through the bee bomb  flowers Friday at the Assiniboine Park English Garden- Nectar from flowers are their main source of food. Hummingbirds wings can beat as fast as 75x times second. Better get a glimpse of them soon the birds fly far south for the winter - from Mexico to South America- JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS- Sept 10, 2009

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you support a proposed ban on tanning beds for youth under 18?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google