Prevalence of and Recovery from Anemia following Hospitalization for Critical Illness among Adults

Matthew A. Warner, Andrew C. Hanson, Ryan D. Frank, Phillip J. Schulte, Ronald S. Go, Curtis B. Storlie, Daryl J. Kor

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2 Scopus citations


Importance: Anemia is common and has been associated with poor outcomes in the critically ill population, yet the timing and extent of hemoglobin recovery remains incompletely described, which may have important implications for clinical outcomes following discharge from intensive care. Objectives: To describe longitudinal changes in anemia status during and after critical illness and assess the associations between hemoglobin concentrations and postdischarge mortality. Design, Setting, and Participants: A population-based cohort study was conducted from January 1, 2010, to December 31, 2016, in Olmsted County, Minnesota; data analysis was performed from June 1 to December 30, 2019. Participants included 6901 adults (age ≥18 years) admitted to intensive care. Main Outcomes and Measures: Hemoglobin concentrations in the 12 months before hospitalization, during hospitalization, and in the 12 months after discharge, categorized by anemia severity (mild, hemoglobin ≥10.0 to <12.0 g/dL in women or ≥10.0 to <13.5 g/dL in men; moderate, hemoglobin ≥8.0 to <10.0 g/dL; and severe, hemoglobin <8.0 g/dL). Complete recovery from anemia, defined as attainment of nonanemic status by 12 months post hospitalization, and 12-month mortality were also evaluated. Results: Of the 6901 patients included in the study, 3792 were men (55%); median (interquartile range [IQR]) age was 67 (IQR, 52-79) years. Prehospitalization hemoglobin concentrations were available in 83% of the population (n = 5694), with median hemoglobin concentrations of 13.1 (IQR, 11.6-14.4) g/dL. Forty-one percent of the patients (n = 2320) had anemia preceding hospitalization. Hemoglobin values at hospital discharge were 10.8 g/dL (IQR, 9.5-12.4 g/dL), with 80% (n = 5182 of 6460) having anemia: 58% mild, 39% moderate, and 3% severe. The prevalence of anemia post hospitalization was 56% (95% CI, 55%-58%) at 3 months, 52% (95% CI, 50%-54%) at 6 months, and 45% (95% CI, 43%-47%) at 12 months among those alive with available hemoglobin measurements. Rates of complete recovery from anemia at 12 months were 58% (95% CI, 56%-61%) for mild anemia, 39% (95% CI, 36%-42%) for moderate anemia, and 24% (95% CI, 15%-34%) for severe anemia. Of those without baseline anemia surviving hospitalization, 74% of the patients were anemic at hospital discharge, with rates of complete 12-month recovery of 73% (95% CI, 69%-76%) for mild anemia, 62% (95% CI, 57%-68%) for moderate anemia, and 59% (95% CI, 35%-82%) for severe anemia. Higher hospital discharge hemoglobin concentrations were associated with decreased mortality after multivariable adjustment (hazard ratio, 0.95 per 1-g/dL increase; 95% CI, 0.90-0.99, P =.02). Conclusions and Relevance: The findings of this study suggest that anemia is common and often persistent in the first year after critical illness. Further studies are warranted to identify distinct anemia recovery profiles and assess associations with clinical outcomes..

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number17843
JournalJAMA Network Open
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 24 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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