Study objective: To examine the association of cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption with hospital presentation of ARDS in a well-defined, multiethnic population.
Design: Retrospective cohort study.
Setting: Health maintenance organization in Northern California.
Participants: A total of 121,012 health plan subscribers (54.2% women), aged 25 to 89 years.
Outcome measure: Hospital presentation of ARDS (validated by medical chart review) from baseline in 1979 to 1985 through the end of 1993 (median, 9.9 years).
Results: There were 56 cases of ARDS (33 in men, 23 in women). The case fatality rate was 39% in both genders. ARDS was independently related to increasing age (rate ratio of 10 years, 1.38; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.12 to 1.71), to current smoking of < 20 cigarettes/d (rate ratio vs never cigarette smokers, 2.85; 95% CI, 1. 23 to 6.60), and to current cigarette smoking of > or = 20 cigarettes/d (rate ratio vs never smokers, 4.59; 95% CI, 2.13 to 9.88). No association was observed between alcohol consumption and ARDS.
Conclusions: The results of this study suggest a relationship (with evidence of dose-response effect) between cigarette smoking and ARDS. Assuming a causal relationship, approximately 50% of ARDS cases were attributable to cigarette smoking.