Background: Denmark has one of the highest alcohol consumption rates in Northern Europe. The overall per capita alcohol consumption has been stable in recent decades, but surveys have indicated that consumption has decreased in the young and increased in the old. However, there is no recent information on the epidemiology of alcoholic cirrhosis. We examined time trends in incidence, prevalence, and hospitalization rates of alcoholic cirrhosis in Denmark between 1988 and 2005.
Methods: We used data from a nationwide population-based hospital registry to identify all Danish citizens with a hospital diagnosis of alcoholic cirrhosis. We computed standardized incidence rates, prevalence and hospitalization rates of alcoholic cirrhosis within the Danish population. We also computed the number of hospitalizations per alcoholic cirrhosis patient per year.
Results: From 1988 to 1993, incidence rates for men and women of any age showed no clear trend, and after a 32 percent increase in 1994, rates were stable throughout 2005. In 2001-2005, the incidence rates were 265 and 118 per 1,000,000 per year for men and women, respectively, and the prevalence rates were 1,326 and 701 per 1,000,000. From 1994, incidence, prevalence, and hospitalization rates decreased for men and women younger than 45 years and increased in the older population, although the latter finding might be partly explained by changes in coding practice. Men and women born around 1960 or later had progressively lower age-specific alcoholic cirrhosis incidence rates than the generations before them. From 1996 to 2005, the number of hospitalizations per alcoholic cirrhosis patient per year increased from 1.3 to 1.5 for men and from 1.1 to 1.2 for women.
Conclusion: From 1988 to 2005, alcoholic cirrhosis put an increasing burden on the Danish healthcare system. However, the decreasing incidence rate in the population younger than 45 years from 1994 indicated that men and women born around 1960 or later had progressively lower incidence rates than the generations before them. Therefore, we expect the overall incidence and prevalence rates of alcoholic cirrhosis to decrease in the future.