McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Critical care survivors suffer long-term impact

Published: April 12, 2011
Deborah Cook
Deborah Cook, a professor in the Department of Medicine and the Department of Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics

Survivors of critical care have a long road in front of them. Even several years later, many may not have regained their physical or psychological health, a study has found.

The study, co-authored by McMaster University professor Deborah Cook, has found patients who were hospitalized in intensive care for acute respiratory distress syndrome still reported physical limitations five years later, even if their lungs are back to normal. Even young, previously working patients who had few other illnesses were found to have ongoing limitations long after an episode of critical illness.

The legacy of severe lung injury also included follow-up physical and psychological issues, decreased physical quality of life and increased costs and use of health care services.

"Critical care is intensive and expensive," said Cook, a professor of medicine and clinical epidemiology and biostatistics at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster. "Vulnerable adults and children requiring life support in the ICU are a research priority here in Hamilton, so we can better deliver multidisciplinary, evidence-informed, patient and family-centered care."

The study, completed with researchers at the University of Toronto, was published in the New England Journal of Medicine last week. The study has been following more than 100 survivors of acute respiratory distress syndrome recruited to participate in the study between 1998 and 2001.

The research was funded by grants from the Canadian Intensive Care Foundation, the Physicians' Services Incorporated Foundation and the Ontario Thoracic Society.

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