Biomedical Risk Factors for Hospital Admission in Older Adults

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Abstract

Objectives.

This study examines the influence of risk factors such as cigarette smoking, blood pressure, serum cholesterol, or chronic illness on frequency of hospital admission in a population-based sample.

Methods.

Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey I Epidemiologic Followup Study for 6,461 adults aged 45 years and older were used to assess the influence of risk factors measured by interview, physical examination, and laboratory tests on frequency of hospital admission over a 12- to 16-year follow-up period. Cox proportional hazard regressions were estimated separately for men and women and for ages 45 to 64 years and 65 years and older. SUDAAN software was used to correct for clustering, stratification, unequal weighting, and multiple observations per respondent.

Results.

Risk of hospitalization was higher for current but not former smokers (relative risk [RR] = 1.17-1.34 for different age-sex groups; P < 0.01), higher blood pressure (RR = 1.25-1.28 for ages 45-64; RR = 1.07-1.15 for ages 65 and older; P < 0.01), and lower serum albumin (RR = 1.08-1.14; P < 0.01). Diabetes, lung conditions, heart attack, and ulcer each were associated with higher risk in at least three of the four age-sex groups, as was arthritis among the middle-aged (45-64 years). Serum cholesterol was not associated with hospitalization.

Conclusions.

Chronic conditions with high morbidity as well as many factors associated with mortality are associated with a higher frequency of hospitalization.

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