Of 228 patients with adult coeliac disease, 42 (19%) were diagnosed aged 60 years or over. In this series, of 35 patients who did not have dermatitis herpetiformis, 15 had attended family doctors and hospital outpatient departments for an average of 28 years with unexplained symptoms or abnormalities in blood tests but the diagnosis of coeliac disease had been missed. This is unsatisfactory because these patients can both manage and respond to a gluten free diet. Thirty eight patients complied strictly with the diet with resolution of symptoms. Significant improvement in weight, haemoglobin, albumin, calcium, and alkaline phosphatase values after a year on the diet also occurred. Clinicians should be alert to the possibility of coeliac disease in the elderly particularly in patients with non-specific complaints in the presence of unexplained anaemia.
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