Objective To determine whether short-term changes in liver tests (bilirubin, albumin, gamma glutamyl transferase, alkaline phosphatase, alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase) predict 12-month mortality and, if so, which test is most informative.
Design Retrospective review of general medicine inpatients at a tertiary hospital (2005–2012) identified non-elective admissions of minimum 7 days’ duration. Patients with liver disease, malignancy, admission to the intensive care unit or inpatient mortality were excluded. Linear spline modelled the vector of intra-admission change from admission. The association between 12-month mortality and admission and intra-admission changes in liver tests was assessed by logistic regression modelling, adjusted for age, gender, comorbidity index and heart failure.
Results 12-month mortality was 17% in 4160 patients analysed. 12-month mortality for patients with abnormally low albumin at admission was 5% higher per 1 g/L below 34 g/L (OR 0.95, 95% CI 0.93 to 0.98, p<0.001). Albumin and ALT were the only tests for which an intra-admission change significantly predicted mortality; the predictive effects were additive. 12-month mortality was greater by 4% per 1 g/L intra-admission decrement in albumin (OR 1.04, 95% CI 1.02 to 1.06, p<0.001) and 6% per 100 IU/L intra-admission increment in ALT (OR 1.06, 95% CI 1.02 to 1.1, p=0.005). Intra-admission changes were superior to admission values in predicting mortality.
Conclusions Changes in liver tests predict long-term mortality better than a single value and provide prognostic information more quickly than long-term monitoring. In the absence of known liver disease, albumin predicts long-term mortality better than transaminases. The patient whose albumin decreases in the short term is at high risk of death within 1 year, even from a normal baseline.
- CHRONIC LIVER DISEASE
- CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE
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