A quarter of patients admitted to Scottish intensive care units have alcohol problems and the majority of those have chronic alcohol disease, with particular problems among men and younger people.
Those are key findings of a survey of all 24 Scottish intensive care units, carried out by the Scottish Intensive Care Audit Group and published online early by Anaesthesia, ahead of inclusion in an issue.
"Alcohol disease adversely affects the outcome of critically ill patients and the burden of this in Scotland is higher than elsewhere in the UK" says co-author Dr Timothy Geary, Anaesthetic Registrar at the Victoria Infirmary in Glasgow.
"Our study of 771 patients admitted to intensive care units in Scotland showed that a quarter of admissions were alcohol related and that nearly three quarters of those affected were male.
"Patients with alcohol problems tended to be significantly younger and admissions from deprived areas of the country were also more likely to be alcohol related. Patients with alcohol problems also needed to be mechanically ventilated for longer. We estimate that, overall, alcohol related admissions cost intensive care units across Scotland 9 million a year."
The World Health Organization suggests that alcohol consumption now accounts for 3.2% of global death rates and 4% of the global ill health. Annual alcohol consumption has grown steadily in the UK, from five litres of pure alcohol per head of population in 1963 to ten litres in 2006.
This rise has been associated with increasing deaths and ill health. Between 1992 and 2008, deaths directly caused by alcohol almost doubled in the UK, from 6.9 to 12.8 per 100,000 people. Death rates in Scotland were particularly high for men during this period, with an average of 63.1 per 100,000 and up to 105 per 100,000 in some parts of the country.
A recent review re-examined the 2003 mortality figures in Scotland and suggested tha
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