Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública
Print version ISSN 1020-4989
MARTINS, Sandro J.; CARDENUTO, Silvio L. and GOLIN, Valdir. Mortality risk factors for persons over age 65 hospitalized in a university hospital in São Paulo, Brazil. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 1999, vol.5, n.6, pp. 386-391. ISSN 1020-4989. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49891999000500002.
Various studies show that age in itself is not an independent predictive factor for the survival of critically ill older persons. In spite of that fact, people over 65 tend not to have access to the most-sophisticated diagnostic and therapeutic resources. With the continued aging of the population, it is increasingly important to be able to determine the mortality risk factors that affect the survival possibilities of hospitalized older people, especially in emergency situations. The objective of this study was to analyze the risk factors related to mortality among people over 65 admitted to the emergency service of the Santa Casa Hospital of São Paulo, a third-level academic institution. The study was based on a nonconditional logistic regression analysis of personal data in the clinical histories and other documents of the hospitalized patients. From July 1993 through March 1994, 599 patients over 65 were hospitalized. They included 326 men (54.4%) and 273 women (45.6%), with a median age of 73.3 years. The primary reasons for admission were pneumonia (14.4%), cerebrovascular disease (11.5%), and congestive heart failure (8.2%). There were 160 deaths among the group. Those who died had a median stay in the hospital of 4 days (range, 1 to 72), which was similar to that of those who survived (median, 3 days; range, 0 to 35 days; P = 0.29). According to multivariate analysis, factors predictive of survival were hypertension (odds ratio = 0.39; 95% CI: 0.23 to 0.68), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (OR = 0.45; 95% CI: 0.22 to 0.95), and diabetes mellitus (OR = 0.50; 95% CI: 0.27 to 0.91). This was true regardless of sex, age, race, compliance with treatment, initial diagnosis, and other pathological conditions present. On the other hand, two factors were predictive of mortality during hospitalization. They were the presence of extrapulmonary infections (OR = 2.34; 95% CI: 1.13 to 4.86) and the number of preexisting illnesses: one (OR = 2.78; 95% CI: 1.56 to 4.96), two (OR = 4.56; 95% CI: 2.28 to 9.15), and three or more (OR = 15.88; 95% CI: 6.49 to 38.85). This study shows that improving the diagnosis and treatment of infections can reduce mortality of elderly persons admitted to emergency services. Rather than age, the multiplicity of diseases was the factor that increased the risk of death among these patients. There is no justification for using age alone to limit the access that older patients have to better diagnosis and treatment resources, if these resources can result in better survival rates, fewer disabilities, or a better quality of life.