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Intensive care of the elderly in Finland


The population is ageing. We wanted to find out how age affects resource consumption and outcome of intensive care in Finland.


We analysed data on 79,361 admissions to 26 Finnish ICUs during the years 1998–2004. We measured the severity of illness with SAPS II scores and the intensity of care with TISS scores.


The median age was 62 years; 8.9% of the patients were aged 80 years or older. The hospital mortality rate was 16.2% in the overall patient population but 28.4% for patients aged 80 years or older. In a multivariate logistic regression analysis, old age was an independent risk factor for hospital mortality (Table 1). Overall, the mean length of ICU stay was 3.1 ± 5.3 days; it was 3.2 ± 5.3 days in the age group 75–79 years but only 2.4 ± 3.5 days in the age group 80 years or older. Overall, the mean TISS score per day was 25.8 ± 10.9; it was 27.8 ± 10.7 in the age group 75–79 years and 25.3 ± 9.9 in the age group 80 years or older. If the need for intensive care remains unchanged in each age group, the change in the age distribution of the Finnish population will increase the demand for ICU beds by 25% by 2030.

Table 1


The hospital mortality rate increased with increasing age. The mean intensity of care and length of ICU stay were lower for the oldest patients than for patients <80 years old. The ageing of the population will probably cause a remarkable increase in the need for intensive care.

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Reinikainen, M., Uusaro, A., Niskanen, M. et al. Intensive care of the elderly in Finland. Crit Care 11 (Suppl 2), P489 (2007).

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