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Severe hyponatraemia in elderly hospitalized patients: prevalence, aetiology and outcome

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Abstract Background:

Hyponatraemia is the commonest electrolyte disorder in the elderly. Data on severe hyponatraemia and the prevalence of cerebral salt wasting syndrome (CSWS) in elderly hospitalized patients are lacking. We studied the incidence, frequency of various aetiologies, outcome and the possible role of CSWS in severe hyponatraemia in elderly medical patients. Methods:

A prospective, observational, non-interventional study conducted over a 5-month period in medical wards. Eighty-six patients aged over 65 years with serum sodium levels ≤125 mEq/L were included. All patients were examined by one of the authors, who also evaluated potential contributing factors. Demographic, clinical and outcome data were extracted from the medical records. Results:

The mean age of the patients was 82.1 + 8.7 years. The prevalence of hyponatraemia was 6.2% (8.1% women and 4.0% men (P < 0.001)). There was no increase in incidence of hyponatraemia with age. The leading cause of hyponatraemia was the syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion (SIADH), whose aetiology could be determined in only 46% of cases. Aetiology was multifactorial in 51% of patients (1.7 aetiological factors per patient). All patients with thiazide-induced hyponatraemia had other contributing factors. Hyperglycaemia and hypoalbuminaemia were predictors of neurological manifestations of hyponatraemia. Overall in-hospital mortality was 19%. Only hypoalbuminaemia was found as an independent risk factor for death. In none of the patients was the hyponatraemia due to CSWS. Conclusion:

Severe hyponatraemia in elderly hospitalized medical patients is more frequent in women and of multifactorial aetiology in 50% of cases. It is most commonly caused by SIADH; CSWS is an unlikely cause.
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Keywords: cerebral salt wasting; elderly; hyponatraemia; multifactorial; outcome

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Departments of Geriatrics and 2: Internal Medicine, Shaare-Zedek Medical Center, Jerusalem, Israel

Publication date: 2010-08-01

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