The Economic Burden of Hyponatremia: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Am J Med. 2016 Aug;129(8):823-835.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2016.03.007. Epub 2016 Apr 5.


Background: Hyponatremia is the most common electrolyte abnormality observed in clinical practice. Several studies have demonstrated that hyponatremia is associated with an increased length of hospital stay and of hospital resource utilization. To clarify the impact of hyponatremia on the length of hospitalization and costs, we performed a meta-analysis based on published studies that compared hospital length of stay and cost between patients with and without hyponatremia.

Methods: An extensive Medline, Embase, and Cochrane search was performed to retrieve all studies published up to April 1, 2015 using the following words: "hyponatremia" or "hyponatraemia" AND "hospitalization" or "hospitalisation." A meta-analysis was performed including all studies comparing duration of hospitalization and hospital readmission rate in subjects with and without hyponatremia.

Results: Of 444 retrieved articles, 46 studies satisfied the inclusion criteria, encompassing a total of 3,940,042 patients; among these, 757,763 (19.2%) were hyponatremic. Across all studies, hyponatremia was associated with a significantly longer duration of hospitalization (3.30 [2.90-3.71; 95% CIs] mean days; P < .000). Similar results were obtained when patients with associated morbidities were analyzed separately. Furthermore, hyponatremic patients had a higher risk of readmission after the first hospitalization (odds ratio 1.32 [1.18-1.48; 95% CIs]; P < .000). A meta-regression analysis showed that the hyponatremia-related length of hospital stay was higher in males (Slope = 0.09 [0.05-0.12; 95% CIs]; P = .000 and Intercept = -1.36 [-3.03-0.32; 95% CIs]; P = .11) and in elderly patients (Slope = 0.002 [0.001-0.003; 95% CIs]; P < .000 and Intercept = 0.89 [0.83-0.97; 95% CIs]; P < .001). A negative association between serum [Na(+)] cutoff and duration of hospitalization was detected. No association between duration of hospitalization, serum [Na(+)], and associated morbidities was observed. Finally, when only US studies (n = 8) were considered, hyponatremia was associated with up to around $3000 higher hospital costs/patient when compared with the cost of normonatremic subjects.

Conclusions: This meta-analysis confirms that hyponatremia is associated with a prolonged hospital length of stay and higher risk of readmission. These observations suggest that hyponatremia may represent one important determinant of the hospitalization costs.

Keywords: Costs; Hospitalization; Hyponatremia.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Hospitalization / economics*
  • Humans
  • Hyponatremia / economics*
  • Length of Stay / economics
  • Patient Readmission / economics
  • Time Factors