The Worsening Profile of Alcoholic Hepatitis in the United States

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Alcoholic hepatitis (AH) is a major cause of liver-related hospitalization. The profile, treatment patterns, and outcomes of subjects admitted for AH in routine clinical practice are unknown. Also, it is not known whether these are changing over time. This study is thus aimed to identify temporal trends in hospitalization rates, clinical characteristics, treatment patterns, and outcomes of subjects admitted for AH in a routine clinical setting.


A retrospective analysis of adults admitted for AH from 2000 to 2011 was performed using an anonymized EMR database of patient-level data from 169 U.S. medical centers.


(i) Epidemiology: The proportion of baby boomers admitted for AH increased from 2000 to 2011 (26 to 31%, p < 0.0001). (ii) Clinical: The median Model for End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD) score increased over time from 12 to 14 (p = 0.0014) driven mainly by increased international normalized ratio (1.2 to 1.4, p < 0.0001). The median Charlson Comorbidity Index increased from 0 to 1 (p < 0.0001) with increased diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and heart disease. (iii) Complications: The following increased from 2001 to 2011: Gastrointestinal bleed—7 to 10% (p = 0.03); hepatic encephalopathy—7 to 13% (p < 0.0001); hepatorenal syndrome—1.8 to 2.8% (p = 0.0003); sepsis—0 to 6% (p < 0.0001); and pancreatitis—11 to 16% (p = 0.0061). (iv) Treatment patterns and mortality: Eight to 9% of subjects received steroids while pentoxifylline use increased to 2.2%. In those with MELD ≥ 22, mortality remained between 19 and 20% and only steroids modestly improved survival in this subset.


Severe AH continues to have a high mortality. The severity and comorbidities and complications associated with AH have worsened. Drug therapy remains suboptimal.

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