Abnormal Serum Sodium is Associated With Increased Mortality Among Unselected Cardiac Intensive Care Unit Patients

Thomas Breen, Benjamin Brueske, Mandeep S. Sidhu, Dennis H. Murphree, Kianoush B. Kashani, Gregory W. Barsness, Jacob C. Jentzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Abnormal serum sodium levels have been associated with higher mortality among patients with acute coronary syndromes and heart failure. We sought to describe the association between sodium levels and mortality among unselected cardiac intensive care unit (CICU) patients. Methods and Results: We retrospectively reviewed consecutive adult patients admitted to our cardiac intensive care unit from 2007 to 2015. Hyponatremia and hypernatremia were defined as admission serum sodium <135 and >145 mEq/L, respectively. In-hospital mortality was assessed by multivariable regression, and postdischarge mortality was evaluated by Cox proportional-hazards analysis. We included 9676 patients with a mean age of 68±15 years (37.5% females). Hyponatremia occurred in 1706 (17.6%) patients, and hypernatremia occurred in 322 (3.3%) patients; these groups had higher illness severity and a greater number of comorbidities. Risk of hospital mortality was higher with hyponatremia (15.5% versus 7.5%; unadjusted odds ratio, 2.41; 95% CI, 2.06–2.82; P<0.001) or hypernatremia (17.7% versus 8.6%; unadjusted odds ratio, 2.82; 95% CI, 2.09–3.80; P<0.001), with a J-shaped relationship between admission sodium and mortality. After multivariate adjustment, only hyponatremia was significantly associated with in-hospital mortality (adjusted odds ratio, 1.42; 95% CI, 1.14–1.76; P=0.002). Among hospital survivors, risk of postdischarge mortality was higher in patients with hyponatremia (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.28; 95% CI, 1.17–1.41; P<0.001) or hypernatremia (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.36; 95% CI, 1.12–1.64; P=0.002). Conclusions: Hyponatremia and hypernatremia on admission to the cardiac intensive care unit are associated with increased unadjusted short- and long-term mortality. Further studies are needed to determine whether correcting abnormal sodium levels can improve outcomes in cardiac intensive care unit patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere014140
JournalJournal of the American Heart Association
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 21 2020


  • cardiac intensive care unit
  • coronary care unit
  • hyponatremia
  • mortality
  • sodium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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