Do elderly patients fare well in the ICU?

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Article, Peer-reviewed

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BACKGROUND: A recent update of the Mortality Probability Model (MPM)-III found 14% of intensive care patients had age as their only MPM risk factor for hospital mortality. This subgroup had a low mortality rate (2% vs 14% overall), and pronounced differences were noted among elderly patients. This article is an expanded analysis of age-related mortality rates in patients in the ICU. METHODS: Project IMPACT data from 135 ICUs for 124,885 patients treated from 2001 to 2004 were analyzed. Patients were stratified as elective surgical, emergency/unscheduled surgical, and medical and then further stratified by age and whether additional MPM risk factors were present or absent. RESULTS: Mortality rose with advancing age within all patient categories. Elective surgical patients without other risk factors were the least likely to die at all ages (0.4% for patients aged 18-29 years to 9.2% for patients aged ≥ 90 years), whereas medical patients with one or more additional risk factors had the highest mortality rate (12.1% for patients aged 18-29 years to 36.0% for patients aged ≥ 90 years). In these two subsets, mortality rates approximately doubled in the elective surgical group among patients aged in their 70s (2.4%), 80s (4.3%), and 90s (9.2%) but rose less dramatically in the medical group (27.0%, 30.7%, and 36.0%, respectively). CONCLUSIONS: Although mortality increased with age, the risk differed significantly by patient subset, even among elderly patients, which may reflect a selection bias. Advanced age alone does not preclude successful surgical and ICU interventions, although the presence of serious comorbidities decreases the likelihood of survival to discharge for all age groups.

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