Background: The ageing of the population will increase the demand for health care resources. The aim of this study was to determine how age affects resource consumption and outcome of intensive care in Finland.
Methods: Data on 79,361 admissions to 26 Finnish intensive care units (ICUs) during the years 1998-2004 were analysed. The severity of illness was measured using Simplified Acute Physiology II scores and the intensity of care using Therapeutic Intervention Scoring System scores.
Results: The median age was 62 years; 8.9% of patients were aged 80 years or over. The hospital mortality rate was 16.2% in the overall patient population, but 28.4% in patients aged 80 years or over. Old age was an independent risk factor for hospital mortality. The mean intensity of care was at its highest in the age groups 60-69, 70-74 and 75-79 years. It was notably lower for patients aged 80 years or over. If the need for intensive care remains unchanged in each age group, the change in the age distribution of the Finnish population will increase the demand for ICU beds by 19% by the year 2020 and by 25% by the year 2030.
Conclusion: The hospital mortality rate increases with increasing age. The mean intensity of care is lower for the oldest patients than for patients aged less than 80 years. The ageing of the population will probably cause a remarkable increase in the need for intensive care in the near future.