OBJECTIVES: To establish the predictive value on mortality after 2 months from hospital admission of two laboratory markers of nutritional and inflammatory status, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) and prealbumin, in a cohort of frail multimorbid elderly without terminal illness.DESIGN: Prospective cohort study.SETTING: Internal medicine ward of a large teaching hospital in Italy.PARTICIPANTS: 544 Caucasian patients with acute disease consecutively admitted from January to June 2013. 102 were excluded for being younger than 65 years old, having life expectancy <30 days or not having frailty syndrome. Further 42 patients were excluded for missing data or withdrawn at follow-up. Final analysis was performed on 400 subjects (179 M, 221 F, mean age 79±10).MEASUREMENTS: Serum prealbumin and hs-CRP were measured at admission. Death within 2 months from hospital admission was assessed through a telephonic interview with the caregiver for each patient discharged alive. Inhospital mortality was also recorded. Survival was calculated from date of admission to our unit.RESULTS: Mean prealbumin at admission was 17.3±7.7 mg/dl, while hs-CRP median was 24.2 mg/L (IQR 8.7 to 51.8). 108 patients (27%) died within two months from admission. In an age- and sex-adjusted analysis, log(hs-CRP) levels at admission, but not prealbumin, were independently associated with an increased risk for mortality (HR 1.40, 95% CI 1.18 to 1.66, p<0.001). After multiple adjustments for covariates, including comorbidity burden measured through Charlson score, log(hs-CRP) remained significantly associated with mortality (HR 1.38, 95% CI 1.08 to 1.76, p=0.01). A Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) curve was performed to test the predictive value of hs-CRP at admission on two-month mortality (AUC 0.68, 95% CI 0.63 to 0.72, p<0.001). Cut-off value was set at 38.4 mg/L. After dichotomization of hs-CRP values according to this cut-off, hs-CRP≥38.4 mg/L at admission proved to be a significant risk factor for mortality (HR 2.10, 95% CI 1.23 to 3.58, p=0.006).CONCLUSION: Serum hs-CRP, but not prealbumin, values at admission are predictors of short-term mortality at hospital admission in elderly multimorbid patients. Inflammation seems to affect prognosis more than malnutrition in this setting and may therefore guide clinicians' attitude towards therapeutic choices
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