Incidence of acute respiratory distress syndrome and its relation to age

J Crit Care. 2005 Sep;20(3):274-80. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrc.2005.05.008.


Purpose: The incidence of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) was previously considered to be relatively low, at less than 10 cases per 100,000 inhabitants per year, but recent reports suggest a higher incidence, especially in elderly patients. The objective was to determine the incidence and mortality of ARDS in our setting, both overall and by age group.

Materials and methods: We conducted a prospective, observational study of patients older than 14 years, admitted to the intensive care units of all hospitals in a province of southern Spain (Granada) during a 5-month period in 2001. American-European Consensus Conference criteria for ARDS were used. Patients were divided into 5 age groups, and the hospital mortality was recorded.

Results: During the study period, 61 Granada-residing patients developed ARDS criteria. This represents an overall incidence of 23 cases per 100,000 inhabitants per year in the province. The incidence of ARDS in the age groups of 15 to 29, 30 to 44, 45 to 59, 60 to 74, and older than 74 years was 4.6, 13.6, 21.6, 51, and 73.9 cases per 100,000 inhabitants per year, respectively. The overall hospital mortality rate was 66%.

Conclusions: The incidence of ARDS is higher than reported a decade ago and is especially elevated in the elderly. The mortality remains high.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / epidemiology*