Acute and chronic diseases as part of multimorbidity in acutely hospitalized older patients

Eur J Intern Med. 2016 Jan;27:68-75. doi: 10.1016/j.ejim.2015.09.021. Epub 2015 Oct 21.


Background: To describe the prevalence of multimorbidity and to study the association between acute and chronic diseases in acutely hospitalized older patients

Methods: Prospective cohort study conducted between 2006 and 2008 in three teaching hospitals in the Netherlands. 639 patients aged 65 years and older, hospitalized for >48 h were included. Two physicians scored diseases, using ICD-9 codes. Chronic multimorbidity was defined as the presence of ≥2 chronic diseases, and acute multimorbidity as ≥1 acute diseases upon pre-existent chronic diseases. Logistic regression analyses were conducted to analyse cluster associations between a chronic index disease and the concurrent chronic or acute disease, corrected for age and sex.

Results: The mean age of patients was 78 years, over 50% had ADL impairments. Prevalence of chronic multimorbidity was 69%, and acute multimorbidity was present in 88%. Hypertension (OR 1.16; 95% CI 1.08-1.24), diabetes (type I or type 2) (OR 1.12; 95% CI 1.04-1.21), heart failure (OR 1.25; 95% CI 1.14-1.38) and COPD (OR 1.19; 95% CI 1.05-1.34) were associated with acute renal failure. Hypertension (OR 1.10; 95% CI 1.04-1.17) and atrial fibrillation (OR 1.17; 95% CI 1.08-1.27) were associated with an adverse drug event. Gastro-intestinal bleeding was clustered with atrial fibrillation (OR 1.11; 95% CI 1.04-1.19) and gastric ulcer (OR 1.16; 95% CI 1.07-1.25).

Conclusion: Both acute and chronic multimorbidity was frequently present in hospitalized older patients. We identified specific associations between acute and chronic diseases. There is a need for strategies addressing multimorbidity during the exacerbation of chronic diseases.

Keywords: Comorbidity; Hospitalization; Internal medicine; Multimorbidity; Older adults.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chronic Disease*
  • Comorbidity*
  • Female
  • Hospitalization*
  • Humans
  • Internal Medicine
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies