Elderly Often Disabled After Mechanical
TUESDAY, Dec. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Elderly hospital patients
who survive being on a mechanical ventilator are more likely to
suffer long-term disabilities after being discharged from hospital
than those who aren't put on the ventilator, even if the levels of
disability before being hospitalized are about the same, says a new
"Unfortunately, 70 percent of elders who receive mechanical ventilation will not survive the year. And the 30 percent who are strong enough to survive will be very disabled," study author Dr. Amber Barnato, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, said in an American Thoracic Society news release.
She and her colleagues analyzed seven years of Medicare data
involving 12,000 person-years and found that elderly patients who
survived being on a mechanical ventilator during a hospitalization
scored 30 percent lower in their ability to do activities of daily
living and 14 percent lower on mobility than those who hadn't been
on a ventilator while in the hospital.
The study appears online and in an upcoming print issue of the
American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care
Previous research has yielded conflicting conclusions about the
effects of mechanical ventilation on elderly patients.
"This study puts to rest the controversy; doctors can confidently tell their elderly patients that if they survive an episode of mechanical ventilation they will be much more disabled than before, and may require nursing home care," Barnato said.
She added that physicians "should discuss outcomes that are
important to patients, such as disability, as well as mortality,
when working with patients and their families to make decisions
about the use of mechanical ventilation."
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more
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