Post-Injury Blood Alcohol Inversely Tied to Mortality

Substantial drop in case fatality rates for patients with elevated blood alcohol concentration

MONDAY, Dec. 3 (HealthDay News) -- For patients with traumatic injuries, there is an inverse dose-response association between blood alcohol concentration and in-hospital mortality, according to a study published in the December issue of Alcohol.

In an effort to examine the dose-response association of in-hospital mortality and blood alcohol concentration, Lee S. Friedman, M.S.P.H., from the University of Illinois in Chicago conducted a retrospective analysis of all traumatic injuries occurring between 1995 and 2009 reported by level 1 and 2 trauma units in the State of Illinois. A total of 190,612 patients with blood alcohol toxicological examination levels ranging from 0 to 500 mg/dL were included.

The researchers found that 6,733 patients died following admission. An increase in blood alcohol concentration correlated significantly with a decrease in in-hospital mortality, after multivariable adjustment (adjusted odds ratio, 0.83 per 100 mg/dL units change in blood alcohol concentration). With the exception of patients suffering burns, the direction of the dose-response association was consistent across the stratified models. Patients suffering penetrating or severe injuries experienced the largest reduction of in-hospital case fatality rates by blood alcohol concentration.

"The substantial reduction in case fatality rates in those with elevated blood alcohol concentration indicates that if the biomechanism was better understood, it would be feasible to consider treating patients with alternative prophylactic treatments upon admission to help mirror the potential benefits of alcohol," Friedman writes.

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