Respiratory Distress Syndrome Tied to Long-Term Problems

Five years after discharge, many ARDS survivors have physical, psychological issues

WEDNESDAY, April 6 (HealthDay News) -- People who experience acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) may feel the ramifications long after discharge in terms of physical limitations, psychological problems, and incurred costs, according to research published in the April 7 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Margaret S. Herridge, M.D., M.P.H., of the University of Toronto, and colleagues evaluated outcomes in 109 survivors of ARDS at intervals ranging from three months to five years after intensive care unit discharge to provide detailed, long-term follow-up data.

The researchers found that neither younger nor older patients returned to normal predicted levels of physical function at five years, though younger patients had greater rates of recovery. The median distance achieved in a six-minute walk at five years was 436 meters, or 76 percent of the predicted distance. Lung function was near-normal to normal, but myriad physical and psychological problems vexed patients and caregivers up to five years, and those with more comorbidities experienced greater five-year costs.

"Exercise limitation, physical and psychological sequelae, decreased physical quality of life, and increased costs and use of health care services are important legacies of severe lung injury," the authors write.

One author disclosed financial relationships with multiple pharmaceutical companies.

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