Multiple organ failure is the main cause of death in intensive care units. A study published today in the journal Critical Care shows that the main risk factors for death in the intensive care unit are central nervous system failure and cardiovascular failure, and the most frequent cause of death is multiple organ failure. In the hospital, once patients have been discharged from the intensive care unit, the main causes of death are malignant tumours and exacerbation of cardiovascular disease.
Viktoria Mayr and colleagues from Innsbruck Medical University collaborated with colleagues from other institutions in Austria to analyse the cause of death in 3700 patients admitted to intensive care units (ICU's). They analysed the causes of death in the ICU, in the hospital after discharge from the ICU, and one year after admission to the ICU.
Mayr et al.'s results show that 47% of patients who died in the ICU died of multiple organ dysfunction. Acute and chronic multiple organ dysfunction were much more common causes of death in the ICU than single organ failure. In addition, patients with central nervous system failure had a 16.07% increased risk of dying while in the ICU and patients with cardiovascular failure had an almost 12% risk of dying these were the main risk factors for death while in the ICU. Mayr et al.'s results also show that malignant tumour disease caused over a third of hospital deaths in patients who had been discharged from the ICU, and one year after admission to the ICU. Exacerbation of chronic cardiovascular disease caused 19.4% of deaths after discharge from the ICU and it is the second most frequent cause of death both after discharge from the ICU and one year after admission to the ICU.