Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA, a near complete deficiency in insulin), digestive haemorrhage and chronic bronchitis, are three very common conditions experienced by the elderly community, often requiring hospitalization. A recent study has found that prompt and efficient primary care for these conditions reduces the need for hospitalization by more than 50%, while other conditions are affected significantly, but to a lesser degree.
The study, conducted in Spain, was performed on 717 elderly patients greater than 60 years in age, averaging 75.65 years. By interviewing the patients family doctors, it was found that “The interviewed professionals answered that a more efficient response in primary health care would reduce in more than 50% the hospitalizations caused by three pathologies: diabetic ketoacidosis, digestive haemorrhage and chronic bronchitis. However, in patients suffering from cancer and acute coronary syndrome an enhanced primary care would only reduce the hospitalizations by 25%.”
As part of the study, it was also concluded that having multiple “pathologies” (conditions), or taking multiple medications, greatly increases the risk of hospitalization. Isabel Valenzuela, lead researcher for the study, states that “the number of pathologies suffered by individual as well as past hospitalizations for causes different to those studied was considered as a risk factor for hospitalizations, although more significantly for severe cases. The amount of medicines consumed and the number of visits to the hospital was related with a higher frequency of hospitalization, especially in chronic cases.”
For elderly individuals, especially those with multiple conditions, it is essential that prompt health care is available when complications arise. Being treated quickly can avoid unnecessary hospital visits and medical costs, and can greatly reduce the risk of further and more serious problems, including death.
Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Valenzuela, Isabel. Science News news release. March 2008.