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The epidemiology of intensive care unit-acquired hyponatraemia and hypernatraemia in medical-surgical intensive care units

Henry Thomas Stelfox, Sofia B Ahmed, Farah Khandwala, David Zygun, Reza Shahpori, Kevin Laupland
Critical Care: the Official Journal of the Critical Care Forum 2008, 12 (6): R162
19094227

INTRODUCTION: Although sodium disturbances are common in hospitalised patients, few studies have specifically investigated the epidemiology of sodium disturbances in the intensive care unit (ICU). The objectives of this study were to describe the incidence of ICU-acquired hyponatraemia and hypernatraemia and assess their effects on outcome in the ICU.

METHODS: We identified 8142 consecutive adults (18 years of age or older) admitted to three medical-surgical ICUs between 1 January 2000 and 31 December 2006 who were documented to have normal serum sodium levels (133 to 145 mmol/L) during the first day of ICU admission. ICU acquired hyponatraemia and hypernatraemia were respectively defined as a change in serum sodium concentration to below 133 mmol/L or above 145 mmol/L following day one in the ICU.

RESULTS: A first episode of ICU-acquired hyponatraemia developed in 917 (11%) patients and hypernatraemia in 2157 (26%) patients with an incidence density of 3.1 and 7.4 per 100 days of ICU admission, respectively, during 29,142 ICU admission days. The incidence of both ICU-acquired hyponatraemia (age, admission diagnosis, Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE) II score, length of ICU stay, level of consciousness, serum glucose level, body temperature, serum potassium level) and ICU-acquired hypernatraemia (baseline creatinine, APACHE II score, mechanical ventilation, length of ICU stay, body temperature, serum potassium level, level of care) varied according to patients' characteristics. Compared with patients with normal serum sodium levels, hospital mortality was increased in patients with ICU-acquired hyponatraemia (16% versus 28%, p < 0.001) and ICU-acquired hypernatraemia (16% versus 34%, p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: ICU-acquired hyponatraemia and hypernatraemia are common in critically ill patients and are associated with increased risk of hospital mortality.

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