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Intensive-care patients with alcohol problems are more likely to require mechanical ventilation

ed with admission to the intensive-care unit pneumonia, sepsis (severe infections), gastrointestinal hemorrhage, asthma, COPD, and respiratory failure for the years 2002 to 2003.

Medical patients who have an AUD are more likely to develop a critical illness resulting in the need for lifesaving mechanical ventilation, said de Wit. More specifically, of the 785,602 patients who were diagnosed with one of the six medical diagnoses examined, 65,071 (8.3%) required mechanical ventilation. Those with an AUD (26,577) appeared to have an increased risk of requiring mechanical ventilation, while those who developed alcohol withdrawal (3,967) appeared to need mechanical ventilation for a longer duration.

Whereas other studies have focused on single-disease entities such as pneumonia, sepsis, and acute respiratory distress syndrome, said de Wit, this study supports and extends previous findings to a heterogeneous group of medical illnesses. So, excessive alcohol consumption not only causes serious adverse events such as alcohol intoxication and accidents, but also increases the chances of developing life-threatening medical illnesses such as pneumonia, asthma, chronic obstructive lung disease, infections and respiratory failure.

De Wit recommended that clinicians screen all medical intensive-care patients for the presence of AUDs. Being mindful that patients with AUDs may develop complications such as alcohol withdrawal, ventilator-associated pneumonia, and possibly acute respiratory distress syndrome may help to identify when preventative measures are necessary. Likewise, she added, patients should inform their healthcare providers about their alcohol consumption or if they have developed symptoms of alcohol withdrawal or delirium tremens. This can help healthcare providers tailor patient care more appropriately.


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25-Jun-2007


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