Nutritional Boost Reduced Mortality in Older Inpatients
Written by Editor   
Monday, March 21, 2016 12:00 AM

A high-protein nutritional supplement halved mortality risk in older malnourished patients hospitalized because of heart or lung disease.  An intention-to-treat analysis showed that one life could be saved for every 20 patients who received the specialized supplement, reported the lead author of for the study from Texas A&M University in College Station.

The study clearly reinforces the power of nutrition in impacting health outcomes. For the people in this study who were ill and malnourished, nutrition was critical to survival because it helps keep your body, especially your muscles, functioning properly.

This is more proof that we need to change the standard and include nutrition as an integral part of care, much like flu shots or aspirin, to help older adults who already have or are at risk for malnutrition and chronic illness.

Researchers found no significant difference between the treatment and placebo groups for the composite endpoint. However, when they looked at mortality apart from hospital readmission, they found that the 90-day mortality rate was significantly lower in the treatment group (4.8%) than the placebo group (9.7%).  Further analysis found the mortality rate was also lower in the treatment group at 30 days (2.9% versus 6.2%) and at 60 days post discharge (4.2% versus 8.7%). Most deaths were due to cardiorespiratory conditions.

We have long known the detrimental effects of malnutrition on survival and other clinical outcomes. What is less clear is how effectively nutritional repletion alters this poor prognosis.  This is one of few studies showing improved outcomes with an oral nutritional supplement for elderly malnourished hospitalized patients. This is important because it will encourage other studies to duplicate these findings, and to determine which nutritional components are most important in achieving improved clinical outcomes.