Frailty is associated with long-term outcome in patients with sepsis who are over 80 years old: results from an observational study in 241 European ICUs

Age Ageing. 2021 Sep 11;50(5):1719-1727. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afab036.


Background: Sepsis is one of the most frequent reasons for acute intensive care unit (ICU) admission of very old patients and mortality rates are high. However, the impact of pre-existing physical and cognitive function on long-term outcome of ICU patients ≥ 80 years old (very old intensive care patients (VIPs)) with sepsis is unclear.

Objective: To investigate both the short- and long-term mortality of VIPs admitted with sepsis and assess the relation of mortality with pre-existing physical and cognitive function.

Design: Prospective cohort study.

Setting: 241 ICUs from 22 European countries in a six-month period between May 2018 and May 2019.

Subjects: Acutely admitted ICU patients aged ≥80 years with sequential organ failure assessment (SOFA) score ≥ 2.

Methods: Sepsis was defined according to the sepsis 3.0 criteria. Patients with sepsis as an admission diagnosis were compared with other acutely admitted patients. In addition to patients' characteristics, disease severity, information about comorbidity and polypharmacy and pre-existing physical and cognitive function were collected.

Results: Out of 3,596 acutely admitted VIPs with SOFA score ≥ 2, a group of 532 patients with sepsis were compared to other admissions. Predictors for 6-month mortality were age (per 5 years): Hazard ratio (HR, 1.16 (95% confidence interval (CI), 1.09-1.25, P < 0.0001), SOFA (per one-point): HR, 1.16 (95% CI, 1.14-1.17, P < 0.0001) and frailty (CFS > 4): HR, 1.34 (95% CI, 1.18-1.51, P < 0.0001).

Conclusions: There is substantial long-term mortality in VIPs admitted with sepsis. Frailty, age and disease severity were identified as predictors of long-term mortality in VIPs admitted with sepsis.

Keywords: frailty; intensive care unit (ICU); mortality; sepsis; very old people.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Comorbidity
  • Frailty* / diagnosis
  • Frailty* / therapy
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sepsis* / diagnosis
  • Sepsis* / therapy