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After ICU Stay, Risk of New Chronic Conditions Rises

March 19, 2019

Patients hospitalized in the intensive care unit (ICU) had a higher prevalence of chronic conditions the year before their ICU stay, and for months following their stay, they were at increased risk of developing new chronic conditions compared with control subjects matched for age, sex, and socioeconomic status. 

Researchers published their findings in Critical Care Medicine.

The retrospective cohort study looked at 56,760 patients admitted to 81 ICUs in the Netherlands in 2013 and compared them with 75,232 people from a population-based control group. Researchers investigated the types and prevalence of chronic conditions the year before ICU treatment and the year afterward. 

The year before ICU admission, the prevalence of chronic conditions was higher in the ICU cohort. Among patients who went on to experience an ICU stay, 36% had one chronic condition and 19% had two or more. In comparison, 29% of control subjects had one chronic condition, and 9% had two or more, MDedge/Federal Practitioner reported.  

In the ICU cohort, prehospitalization rates were higher for high cholesterol (16%, compared with 14% among controls), heart disease (14%, compared with 6%), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (8%, compared with 3%), type 2 diabetes (8%, compared with 6%), type 1 diabetes (6%, compared with 3%), and depression (6%, compared with 4%), the article stated.

In the year following the ICU stay, the ICU cohort had a higher risk of developing diabetes, depression, heart disease, and other new chronic conditions. According to MDedge/Federal Practitioner, a risk 3 to 4 times higher, depending on age, in the ICU cohort compared with the general population.

Researchers recommended establishing follow-up care after an ICU stay that would focus on identifying and treating new chronic conditions in patients.

Jolynn Tumolo


van Beusekom I, Bakhshi-Raiez F, van der Schaaf M, Busschers WB, de Keizer NF, Dongelmans DA. ICU survivors have a substantial higher risk of developing new chronic conditions compared to a population-based control group. Critical Care Medicine. 2019;47(3):324-330.

Kling J. ICU admissions raise chronic condition risk. MDedge/Federal Practitioner. February 27, 2019.

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