Objective: To investigate the prevalence of hypoalbuminemia and hypoprealbuminemia in hospitalized, elderly, skilled nursing facility residents and to correlate these findings with clinical outcomes.
Design: Prospective cohort study.
Setting: A 300-bed community hospital.
Participants: Eighty-one hospitalized, skilled nursing facility patients, average age 83.1 years.
Outcome measures: Serum albumin and prealbumin (transthyretin) were measured at admission, mid-week, 1 week, and 1 month. Patients were followed for 90 days for the outcomes of length of hospitalization and mortality.
Results: The prevalence of hypoalbuminemia was 99% and of hypoprealbuminemia, 79%. Both means dropped significantly from admission to midweek nadirs of 25 g/L for albumin and 14 mg/L for prealbumin. Severe hypoalbuminemia at mid-week predicted mortality (RR = 4.1 95%, CI 2.0-8.5) and extended length of hospitalization (RR = 5.2 95%, CI 2.8-9.8). Severe hypoprealbuminemia predicted extended hospitalization (RR = 3.2, CI 1.5-6.7) but not mortality.
Conclusions: Hypoalbuminemia and hypoprealbuminemia are very common in this clinical setting and vary in parallel fashion over time. Severe hypoalbuminemia was a stronger predictor than hypoprealbuminemia of 90-day mortality and extended length of stay. Serum albumin on admission was not as strong a predictor of outcomes as serum albumin at mid-week.