Conference Coverage

ICU admissions raise chronic condition risk



A new study of ICU patients in the Netherlands shows a heightened risk of developing new chronic conditions in patients after an intensive care stay. The research showed rising likelihood of conditions such as depression, diabetes, and heart disease.

Ilse van Beusekom is a PhD candidate in health sciences at the University of Amsterdam and data manager at the National Intensive Care Evaluation foundation.

Ms. Ilse van Beusekom

By merging two existing databases, the researchers were able to capture a more comprehensive picture of post-ICU patients. “We were able to include almost the entire country,” Ilse van Beusekom, a PhD candidate in health sciences at the University of Amsterdam and data manager at the National Intensive Care Evaluation (NICE) foundation, said in an interview.

Ms. van Beusekom presented the study at the Critical Care Congress sponsored by the Society of Critical Care Medicine. The study was simultaneously published in Critical Care Medicine.

The work compared 56,760 ICU survivors from 81 facilities across the Netherlands to 75,232 age-, sex-, and socioeconomic status–matched controls. The mean age was 65 years and 60% of the population was male. “The types of chronic conditions are the same, only the prevalences are different,” said Ms. van Beusekom.

The researchers compared chronic conditions in the year before ICU admission and the year after, based on data pulled from the NICE national quality database, which includes data describing the first 24 hours of ICU admission, and the Vektis insurance claims database, which includes information on medical treatment. Before ICU admission, 45% of the ICU population was free of chronic conditions, as were 62% of controls. One chronic condition was present in 36% of ICU patients, versus 29% of controls, and two or more conditions were present in 19% versus 9% of controls.

The ICU population was more likely to have high cholesterol (16% vs. 14%), heart disease (14% vs. 6%), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (8% vs. 3%), type II diabetes (8% vs. 6%), type I diabetes (6% vs. 3%), and depression (6% vs. 4%).

The ICU population also was at greater risk of developing one or more new chronic conditions during the year following their stay. The risk was three- to fourfold higher throughout age ranges.

The study suggests the need for greater follow-up after an ICU admission in order to help patients cope with lingering problems. Ms. van Beusekom noted that there are follow-up programs in the Netherlands for several patient groups, but none for ICU survivors. One possibility would be to have the patient return to the ICU 3 months or so after release to discuss their diagnosis, treatment, and any lingering concerns. “A lot of people don’t know that their complaints are linked with the ICU visit,” said Ms. van Beusekom.

Timothy G. Buchman, MD, professor of surgery at Emory University, Atlanta, who moderated the session, wondered why the ICU seems to be an inflection point for developing new chronic conditions. Could it simply be because patients are sicker to begin with and have reached an inflection point of their illness, or could the treatments in ICU be contributing to or exposing those conditions? Ms. van Beusekom believed it was likely a combination of factors, and she referred to data she had not presented showing that even control patients who had been to the hospital (though not the ICU) during the study period were at lower risk of new chronic conditions than ICU patients.

Ms. van Beusekom’s group plans to investigate ICU-related variables that might be associated with risk of chronic conditions.

The study was not funded. Ms. van Beusekom had no relevant disclosures.

SOURCE: van Beusekom I et al. CCC48, Abstract Crit Care Med. 2019;47:324-30.

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