0
Clinical Investigations in Critical Care |

Acute Respiratory Failure in the United States*: Incidence and 31-Day Survival FREE TO VIEW

Carolyn E. Behrendt, PhD
Author and Funding Information

*From Children’s Hospital, San Diego, CA.

Correspondence to: Carolyn E. Behrendt, PhD, 4065 3413 Paseo del Campo, Palos Verdes, CA 90274; e-mail: CarolynBehrendt@yahoo.com



Chest. 2000;118(4):1100-1105. doi:10.1378/chest.118.4.1100
Text Size: A A A
Published online

Study objectives: To estimate the incidence of acute respiratory failure (ARF) in the United States and to analyze 31-day hospital mortality among a cohort of patients with ARF.

Design and setting: Retrospective cohort drawn from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample of 6.4 million discharges from 904 representative nonfederal hospitals during 1994.

Patients: All 61,223 patients in the sample whose discharge records indicated all of the following: acute respiratory distress or failure, mechanical ventilation, ≥ 24 h of hospitalization, and age≥ 5 years.

Results: An estimated 329,766 patients discharged from nonfederal hospitals nationwide in 1994 met study criteria for ARF. The incidence of ARF was 137.1 hospitalizations per 100,000 US residents age ≥ 5 years. Incidence increased nearly exponentially each decade until age 85 years. Overall, 35.9% of patients with ARF did not survive to hospital discharge. At 31 days, hospital mortality was 31.4%. According to the proportional hazards model, significant mortality hazards included age (≥ 80 years and≥ 30 years), multiorgan system failure (MOSF), HIV, chronic liver disease, and cancer. Hospital admission for coronary artery bypass, drug overdose, or trauma other than head injury or burns was associated with a reduced mortality hazard. Interaction was present between age and MOSF, trauma, and cancer. A point system derived from the hazard model classified patients into seven groups with distinct 31-day survival probabilities ranging from 24 to 99%.

Conclusions: The incidence of ARF increases markedly with age and is especially high among persons ≥ 65 years of age. Nonpulmonary hazards explain short-term (31-day) survival.

Figures in this Article

A picture of the epidemiology of acute respiratory failure (ARF) is emerging, but significant gaps remain. Surveys of ICU patients have estimated the incidence of ARF to be 77.6 cases per 100,000 population age ≥ 15 years in Sweden, Denmark, and Iceland and 88.6 cases per 100,000 residents in Berlin.12 The incidence of ARF in the United States, however, is unknown. Rates of hospital mortality among ICU patients with a diagnosis of ARF or requiring mechanical ventilation range from 28 to 58%.112 Higher mortality rates have been observed among ARF patients with AIDS or hematologic malignancy (65% and 83% mortality, respectively).1314

Independent hazards for ARF mortality include older age,12,46,8,1112,14 severe chronic comorbidities (HIV, active malignancy, cirrhosis),1,56,810,12 certain precipitating events (trauma,3,6,8,11 drug overdose,89 bone marrow transplant[ BMT]13), and multiple organ system dysfunction or failure (MOSF).34,7,913 Mortality has also been associated with acute lung injury 9,12 or bilateral infiltrates on chest radiograph,1 and with an elevated acute physiology score1,67 or APACHE (acute physiology and chronic health evaluation) score.910

To my knowledge, no study to date has applied survival analysis to a representative cohort of US ARF patients, surgical as well as medical, children as well as adults. Such a cohort can be extracted from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a database of all patients discharged from a representative sample of 904 nonfederal hospitals throughout the United States during 1994.15 Using data on these ARF patients, the current study estimates age-specific incidences of ARF and constructs a proportional hazards model to explain the associated hospital mortality. These findings will enhance the epidemiologic picture of ARF, increasing the information available to support clinical decision making, counseling of ARF patients and their families, and investigation of new therapies.

Data Source

The 1994 Nationwide Inpatient Sample was designed to include acute care discharges from representative hospitals across the United States during a 1-year period.15 A systematic random sample of 904 hospitals was drawn from 2,135 nonfederal general and specialty hospitals stratified by geographic region, urban or rural location, control (government nonfederal, private not-for-profit, and private investor-owned), teaching status, and bed size. All discharges from the selected hospitals were included, for a total of 6,385,011 inpatients. Available data included patient demographics, sampling weights, International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM) discharge codes for diagnoses and procedures, duration of hospitalization, discharge disposition, and hospital characteristics.

Definitions

Patients in the Nationwide Inpatient Sample were considered to have ARF if they had a diagnostic code for acute respiratory distress or failure (ICD-9-CM 518.5, 518.81, or 518.82) together with a procedure code for continuous mechanical ventilation (ICD-9-CM 96.7). Such ventilation included positive end-expiratory pressure but excluded continuous positive airway pressure, intermittent positive-pressure breathing, and oxygen by face mask or nasal cannula. Total hours of ventilation were not recorded in the database, so no minimum period of mechanical ventilation was specified. Instead, ARF patients were limited to those who remained in the hospital at least 24 h. Infants and children < 5 years were excluded.

Additional clinical conditions were ascertained using ICD-9-CM codes. MOSF was defined as one or more of the following in addition to respiratory failure: acute renal failure, cardiac arrest, shock, acute cerebrovascular event, disseminated intravascular coagulation, acute intestinal vascular insufficiency, acute hepatic failure, head injury with loss of consciousness for > 24 h or until death, and burns involving ≥ 20% of body surface. Trauma refers to a primary diagnosis of crushing or internal injury, open wounds, superficial injury or contusion, sprains or strains, fractures other than isolated hip fracture, spinal cord injury, other injuries, or ARF with lung contusion. Head injury with loss of consciousness for > 24 h or until death and burns involving ≥ 20% of body surface were categorized as MOSF rather than trauma.

Statistical Analysis

National sampling weights were used in all analyses (SUDAAN 7.5.3 software; Research Triangle Institute; Research Triangle Park, NC) except the generation of survival plots (SAS 6.12 software; SAS Institute; Cary, NC). For the national estimates of ARF incidence, US Census Bureau estimates of the resident population as of July 1, 1994, served as the population denominators.16

The SEs of proportions and 95% confidence intervals around proportional hazard estimates were calculated using Taylor series linearization.1718 This method takes into account the intracluster correlation that may result from the survey design, which included all patients at selected hospitals rather than selected patients from all hospitals.

The follow-up period began at 24 h after hospital admission and continued through 31 days. After this time, the accelerated nature of several hazards (age ≥ 80 years, MOSF, coronary artery bypass graft[ CABG], and drug overdose) undermined the requisite assumption of proportional hazards.19 Survivors included patients who were discharged alive at any time and also those who died in the hospital after the follow-up period; survival times were censored at 31 days. Terms were retained in the multivariate model if they were significant at p < 0.0001 and improved the −2 log-likelihood ratio.

Patients

Among the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, 62,642 patients with acute respiratory distress or failure received mechanical ventilation and were hospitalized ≥ 24 h. After excluding the 2.3% of these patients who were < 5 years of age, a total of 61,223 ARF patients remained. Their median age was 69 years (5th to 95th percentile range, 30 to 87 years). Children aged 5 to 17 years comprised 1.4% of patients. Half (51.1%) of all patients were male.

The highest frequency of head injury, burns, and other trauma combined (20.8%) was among patients aged < 30 years, whereas the greatest prevalence of congestive heart failure (47.2%) and COPD (39.0%) was among patients aged ≥ 50 years. The frequency of asthma decreased steadily with age, from 16.6% among children aged 5 to 17 years to 2.9% among adults aged ≥ 80 years.

Incidence

The ARF patients in the sample corresponded to 329,766 discharges nationwide or 137.1 hospitalizations per 100,000 US residents aged≥ 5 years. ARF incidence increased markedly with age, resulting in an 88-fold difference in risk between the youngest and oldest age groups (Fig 1 ).

Survival

Overall, 35.9 ± 0.3% of ARF patients did not survive to hospital discharge. Most (87.5%) deaths occurred within the 31-day follow-up period. Median length of stay (5th to 95th percentile range) was 13 days (3 to 55 days) among survivors and 10 days (1 to 50 days) among nonsurvivors.

A cohort of 61,113 ARF patients was appropriate for survival analysis. Patients admitted to the hospital for BMT (n = 86 or 0.14%) were excluded. Because of the variable lag time between admission for BMT and onset of ARF, their survival curve could not be aligned with that of the rest of the cohort. Another 24 patients (0.04%) who lacked data on survival status at follow-up were also excluded.

At the end of 31 days, hospital mortality among the cohort was 31.4 ± 0.2%. As shown in Table 1 , hazards for 31-day mortality included age, MOSF, HIV, chronic liver disease, and cancer. Mortality hazard was significantly reduced among patients admitted for CABG, drug overdose, or trauma other than head injury or burns (hereafter referred to simply as trauma).

Significant interaction was present between age and MOSF, trauma, and cancer. Mortality hazard increased at age 30 years (but only among patients without MOSF or trauma) and again at age 80 years. MOSF was a significant hazard among all age groups but had proportionally greater impact among patients aged < 80 years, especially those < 30 years and those admitted to the hospital for trauma. Cancer was a significant hazard until age 80 years; thereafter, mortality among patients with and without cancer did not differ.

Trauma patients aged 30 to 79 years who did not develop MOSF had a mortality rate as low as that among uncomplicated patients aged < 30 years; these groups were combined to serve as the model’s referent category. The fit of the model was further improved by combining cancer and chronic liver disease into a single term (severe chronic comorbidity) and by combining drug overdose and CABG into another term (low-risk precipitating event). The model was not improved by including a term for sepsis.

A point system, shown in the far right column of Table 1, converted the hazard profiles of individual patients into scores from −1 to 5 (Table 2 ). The observed survival curves associated with these scores (Fig 2 ) were each significantly different from the next (log-rank test, p < 0.001 for all pairs). The steepest curve was the least smooth, owing to the small number of patients (n = 101) with the maximum score.

As in previous studies of ARF incidence, the current case definition excluded persons who were not admitted to a hospital as well as inpatients who did not receive mechanical ventilation or who were discharged within 24 h.12 Unlike earlier studies, the current study did not restrict ARF cases to ICU patients and did not specify a minimum period of mechanical ventilation. These broader inclusion criteria help to explain why the current study yielded a higher incidence estimate than previous studies. The true incidence of ARF may have been underestimated, however, because the Nationwide Inpatient Sample did not include patients admitted to federal hospitals and because some ARF patients may not have been coded as such at discharge.

The gap between the current estimate (137.1/ 100,000 residents aged≥ 5 years) and that previously published from Berlin (88.6/100,000 residents) narrows once the Berlin estimate has been adjusted for age.2 Adjustment is necessary because, whereas the entire population of Berlin served as the estimate’s denominator, its numerator was restricted to ARF cases ≥ 14 years. Assuming that children < 14 years comprised 20% of the Berlin population (as was the case in the US population16), the age-adjusted incidence of ARF in Berlin would be approximately 110.8/100,000 residents aged ≥ 14 years. It is unclear why another European survey of ARF yielded a much lower estimate of 77.6 per 100,000 population aged ≥ 15 years.1

The incidence of ARF was found to increase nearly exponentially with each decade until age 85 years. Comparable incidence estimates by age have not been published.

The current 36% rate of mortality before discharge was similar to the 37% rate previously reported among ARF patients admitted to 40 US hospitals6 and approached the 41% and 43% rates reported among ARF patients in two European surveys.12 Whether ARF incidence or mortality differs significantly between the United States and Europe cannot be determined at this time, because of varying case definitions among studies to date.

Because discharge data reflect the entire course of hospitalization rather than the initial day of follow-up, the current survival analysis and the point system derived from it are explanatory rather than prognostic. The current survival analysis confirmed reports of associations between ARF mortality and older age, MOSF, HIV, cancer, chronic liver disease, trauma, and drug overdose.113 The increase in mortality at age 30 years and again at age 80 years observed in the current study has been noted in previous studies of patients receiving mechanical ventilation and ARF patients.5,8,12 Also consistent with earlier studies was the current lack of association between ARF mortality and sex, pneumonia, COPD, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.15,910,14 The current data did not confirm an independent association between ARF mortality and sepsis.3,9

The current survival analysis reflects the limitations as well as the strengths inherent in the Nationwide Inpatient Sample database. The lack of data on acute lung injury and acute physiologic or APACHE score and the necessity of excluding BMT patients precluded testing of these potential hazards in the multivariate model. However, the presence of large numbers of children, young adults, and the elderly within the sample permitted the significant interaction between age and other hazards for ARF mortality to be detected for the first time.

The incidence of ARF increases markedly with age and is especially high among persons ≥ 65 years of age. Nonpulmonary hazards explain short-term (31-day) survival.

Abbreviations: APACHE = acute physiology and chronic health evaluation; ARF = acute respiratory failure; BMT = bone marrow transplant; CABG = coronary artery bypass graft; ICD-9-CM = International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision, Clinical Modification; MOSF = multiorgan system failure

Figure Jump LinkFigure 1. Cases and incidence of ARF in the United States, 1994, by age. Bars denote the numbers of ARF cases; diamonds indicate incidence per 100,000 US residents. Age-specific incidence estimates are, from left to right, 9.7, 21.6, 32.3, 52.3, 99.9, 231.3, 493.5, 765.5, and 852.9 cases per 100,000.Grahic Jump Location
Table Graphic Jump Location
Table 1. Thirty-one-Day Hospital Mortality Among a Nationally Representative Sample (n = 61,113) of Patients With ARF*
* 

CI = confidence interval.

 

When these points are totaled according to an individual patient’s characteristics, the resulting score corresponds to one of seven 31-day survival curves observed among ARF patients with the same score (see Fig 2).

 

The frequency of MOSF (29.9% overall) was significantly higher among those ARF patients who underwent CABG (51.9%) or who had chronic liver disease (48.2%) and significantly lower among trauma patients (22.5%), children ages 5 to 17 years (20.7%), and patients admitted for drug overdose or poisoning (12.1%).

§ 

Trauma does not include head injury or burns; these conditions are categorized instead as MOSF.

 

Mortality was not associated with sex, pneumonia, aspiration pneumonitis, CHF, COPD, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, interstitial lung disease, neuromuscular disease, GI hemorrhage, pancreatitis, embolism, aneurysm, ketoacidosis, inhalational injury, or near-drowning.

Table Graphic Jump Location
Table 2. Survival Among ARF Patients (n = 61,113) by Hazard Score
* 

Percent cumulative survival at 31 days, calculated using national sampling weights.

Figure Jump LinkFigure 2. Plot of survival among ARF patients (n = 61,113) by hazard score.Grahic Jump Location

The author thanks Alvaro Muñoz, PhD, for valuable advice on the survival analysis.

Luhr, OR, Antonsen, K, Karlsson, M, et al (1999) Incidence and mortality after acute respiratory failure and acute respiratory distress syndrome in Sweden, Denmark, and Iceland.Am J Respir Crit Care Med159,1849-1861. [PubMed]
 
Lewandowski, K, Metz, J, Deutschmann, H, et al Incidence, severity, and mortality of acute respiratory failure in Berlin, Germany.Am J Respir Crit Care Med1995;151,1121-1125. [PubMed]
 
Vasilyev, S, Schaap, RN, Mortensen, JD Hospital survival rates of patients with acute respiratory failure in modern respiratory intensive care units.Chest1995;107,1083-1088. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Stauffer, JL, Fayter, NA, Graves, B, et al Survival following mechanical ventilation for acute respiratory failure in adult men.Chest1993;104,1222-1229. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Swinburne, AJ, Fedullo, AJ, Bixby, K, et al Respiratory failure in the elderly: analysis of outcome after treatment with mechanical ventilation.Arch Intern Med1993;153,1657-1662. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Knaus, WA, Sun, X, Hakim, RB, et al Evaluation of definitions for adult respiratory distress syndrome.Am J Respir Crit Care Med1994;150,311-317. [PubMed]
 
Jimenez, P, Torres, A, Roca, J, et al Arterial oxygenation does not predict outcome of patients with acute respiratory failure needing mechanical ventilation.Eur Respir J1994;7,730-735. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Cohen, IL, Lambrinos, JL Investigating the impact of age on outcome of mechanical ventilation using a population of 41,848 patients from a statewide database.Chest1995;107,1673-1680. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Epstein, SK, Vuong, V Lack of influence of gender on outcomes of mechanically ventilated medical ICU patients.Chest1999;116,732-739. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Knaus, WA Prognosis with mechanical ventilation: the influence of disease, severity of disease, age, and chronic health status on survival from an acute illness.Am Rev Respir Dis1989;140,S8-S13. [PubMed]
 
Gracey, DR, Naessens, JM, Krishan, I, et al Hospital and posthospital survival in patients mechanically ventilated for more than 29 days.Chest1992;101,211-214. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Pascual, FE, Matthay, MA, Bacchetti, P, et al Assessment of prognosis in patients with community-acquired pneumonia who require mechanical ventilation.Chest2000;117,503-512. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Montaner, JSG, Hawley, PH, Ronco, JJ, et al Multisystem organ failure predicts mortality of ICU patients with acute respiratory failure secondary to AIDS-related PCP.Chest1992;102,1823-1828. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Epner, DE, White, P, Krasnoff, M, et al Outcome of mechanical ventilation for adults with hematologic malignancy.J Invest Med1996;44,254-260
 
Healthcare Cost, and Utilization Project Nationwide Inpatient Sample, release 3, 1994, CD-ROM. Rockville, MD: US Department of Health and Human Services, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 1996.
 
Statistical abstract of the United States 1995: resident population by age and state 1994. 115th ed. Washington, DC: US Bureau of the Census, 1995; 33.
 
Binder, D On the variances of asymptotically normal estimators from complex surveys.Int Stat Rev1983;51,279-292. [CrossRef]
 
Binder, D Fitting Cox’s proportional hazards models from survey data.Biometrika1992;79,139-147. [CrossRef]
 
Lawless, JF Statistical models and methods for lifetime data.1982,279 John Wiley and Sons. New York, NY:
 

Figures

Figure Jump LinkFigure 1. Cases and incidence of ARF in the United States, 1994, by age. Bars denote the numbers of ARF cases; diamonds indicate incidence per 100,000 US residents. Age-specific incidence estimates are, from left to right, 9.7, 21.6, 32.3, 52.3, 99.9, 231.3, 493.5, 765.5, and 852.9 cases per 100,000.Grahic Jump Location
Figure Jump LinkFigure 2. Plot of survival among ARF patients (n = 61,113) by hazard score.Grahic Jump Location

Tables

Table Graphic Jump Location
Table 1. Thirty-one-Day Hospital Mortality Among a Nationally Representative Sample (n = 61,113) of Patients With ARF*
* 

CI = confidence interval.

 

When these points are totaled according to an individual patient’s characteristics, the resulting score corresponds to one of seven 31-day survival curves observed among ARF patients with the same score (see Fig 2).

 

The frequency of MOSF (29.9% overall) was significantly higher among those ARF patients who underwent CABG (51.9%) or who had chronic liver disease (48.2%) and significantly lower among trauma patients (22.5%), children ages 5 to 17 years (20.7%), and patients admitted for drug overdose or poisoning (12.1%).

§ 

Trauma does not include head injury or burns; these conditions are categorized instead as MOSF.

 

Mortality was not associated with sex, pneumonia, aspiration pneumonitis, CHF, COPD, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, interstitial lung disease, neuromuscular disease, GI hemorrhage, pancreatitis, embolism, aneurysm, ketoacidosis, inhalational injury, or near-drowning.

Table Graphic Jump Location
Table 2. Survival Among ARF Patients (n = 61,113) by Hazard Score
* 

Percent cumulative survival at 31 days, calculated using national sampling weights.

References

Luhr, OR, Antonsen, K, Karlsson, M, et al (1999) Incidence and mortality after acute respiratory failure and acute respiratory distress syndrome in Sweden, Denmark, and Iceland.Am J Respir Crit Care Med159,1849-1861. [PubMed]
 
Lewandowski, K, Metz, J, Deutschmann, H, et al Incidence, severity, and mortality of acute respiratory failure in Berlin, Germany.Am J Respir Crit Care Med1995;151,1121-1125. [PubMed]
 
Vasilyev, S, Schaap, RN, Mortensen, JD Hospital survival rates of patients with acute respiratory failure in modern respiratory intensive care units.Chest1995;107,1083-1088. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Stauffer, JL, Fayter, NA, Graves, B, et al Survival following mechanical ventilation for acute respiratory failure in adult men.Chest1993;104,1222-1229. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Swinburne, AJ, Fedullo, AJ, Bixby, K, et al Respiratory failure in the elderly: analysis of outcome after treatment with mechanical ventilation.Arch Intern Med1993;153,1657-1662. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Knaus, WA, Sun, X, Hakim, RB, et al Evaluation of definitions for adult respiratory distress syndrome.Am J Respir Crit Care Med1994;150,311-317. [PubMed]
 
Jimenez, P, Torres, A, Roca, J, et al Arterial oxygenation does not predict outcome of patients with acute respiratory failure needing mechanical ventilation.Eur Respir J1994;7,730-735. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Cohen, IL, Lambrinos, JL Investigating the impact of age on outcome of mechanical ventilation using a population of 41,848 patients from a statewide database.Chest1995;107,1673-1680. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Epstein, SK, Vuong, V Lack of influence of gender on outcomes of mechanically ventilated medical ICU patients.Chest1999;116,732-739. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Knaus, WA Prognosis with mechanical ventilation: the influence of disease, severity of disease, age, and chronic health status on survival from an acute illness.Am Rev Respir Dis1989;140,S8-S13. [PubMed]
 
Gracey, DR, Naessens, JM, Krishan, I, et al Hospital and posthospital survival in patients mechanically ventilated for more than 29 days.Chest1992;101,211-214. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Pascual, FE, Matthay, MA, Bacchetti, P, et al Assessment of prognosis in patients with community-acquired pneumonia who require mechanical ventilation.Chest2000;117,503-512. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Montaner, JSG, Hawley, PH, Ronco, JJ, et al Multisystem organ failure predicts mortality of ICU patients with acute respiratory failure secondary to AIDS-related PCP.Chest1992;102,1823-1828. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Epner, DE, White, P, Krasnoff, M, et al Outcome of mechanical ventilation for adults with hematologic malignancy.J Invest Med1996;44,254-260
 
Healthcare Cost, and Utilization Project Nationwide Inpatient Sample, release 3, 1994, CD-ROM. Rockville, MD: US Department of Health and Human Services, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 1996.
 
Statistical abstract of the United States 1995: resident population by age and state 1994. 115th ed. Washington, DC: US Bureau of the Census, 1995; 33.
 
Binder, D On the variances of asymptotically normal estimators from complex surveys.Int Stat Rev1983;51,279-292. [CrossRef]
 
Binder, D Fitting Cox’s proportional hazards models from survey data.Biometrika1992;79,139-147. [CrossRef]
 
Lawless, JF Statistical models and methods for lifetime data.1982,279 John Wiley and Sons. New York, NY:
 
NOTE:
Citing articles are presented as examples only. In non-demo SCM6 implementation, integration with CrossRef’s "Cited By" API will populate this tab (http://www.crossref.org/citedby.html).

Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.

Find Similar Articles
CHEST Journal Articles
PubMed Articles
  • CHEST Journal
    Print ISSN: 0012-3692
    Online ISSN: 1931-3543