Background: Parallel to increased life expectancy, the number of very elderly patients hospitalized in internal medicine departments is growing rapidly, although clinical data on hospital care are lacking.
Objectives: To investigate the sociodemographic data, hospitalization characteristics and outcomes of nonagenarian patients, as these measures are necessary for evaluating prognostic information and predictors of mortality.
Methods: We reviewed the medical records of all patients aged > or = 90 hospitalized in our institute's Department of Internal Medicine. The data comprised 482 admissions of 333 patients hospitalized over a one year period.
Results: Half of the study patients were residents of nursing institutions. A high rate of atrial fibrillation was documented (106 patients, 32%). Acute infectious diseases constituted the leading diagnosis (276/482 admissions, 57%), followed by acute coronary syndrome (17% of admissions). In-hospital mortality occurred in 74 patients (22%). Chronic therapy with statins or acetylsalicylic acid was inversely related to mortality (P<0.05). The main predictors for in-hospital death of nonagenarians were pressure sores, older age, atrial fibrillation, malignant disease, and admission due to an acute infection, especially Clostridium difficile-associated diseases in addition, mental decline, permanent urinary catheter, leukocytosis, renal failure and hypoalbuminemia predicted post-discharge mortality. Admission due to an infectious disease but not acute coronary syndrome was significantly correlated to in-hospital and post-discharge mortality (P<0.001).
Conclusions: Hospitalized nonagenarians comprise a growing group with distinct characteristics and increasing significance in the daily practice of internal medicine departments. Comprehensive assessment of the elderly at admission together with identification of the above clinical and laboratory risk factors for mortality will help determine in-hospital management, discharge planning and rehabilitation programs.