Alcohol is known to act synergistically with chronic Hepatitis C virus infection to cause liver disease.
However, their combined effect on outcomes in acutely hospitalized patients is less clear.
Dr Judith Tsuia and colleagues examined the impact of Hepatitis C infection on hospital mortality.
The research team also investigated the impact and length of stay among hospitalized patients with Hep C and alcohol abuse problems.
The team retrospectively identified 6354 admissions to an urban, public hospital between 1996 and 2002.
The patients had discharge diagnoses related to alcohol dependence or abuse.
Hepatitis C diagnosis and other information were extracted from a clinical database.
|Patients with Hepatitis C were twice as likely to die during hospital admission|
|Journal of Hepatology|
The data extracted was tested for associations with death and length of hospital stay using multivariable regression techniques.
The researchers found that the prevalence of diagnosed Hepatitis C infection in this sample of patients with alcohol abuse was 15%.
Patients with Hepatitis C were about twice as likely to die during hospital admission.
The team noted a trend toward increased mortality even after adjustment for demographics, medical service, homelessness and comorbidities.
Length of stay was significantly longer for patients with Hepatitis C than those without.
Dr Tsuia's team concluded, “Patients admitted to the hospital with alcohol-related diagnoses have longer hospital stays and are more likely to die in hospital if they have a diagnosis of Hepatitis C.”