Background: Although it is well known that alcoholism increases long-term mortality, there is a paucity of data regarding long-term prognosis in alcoholic patients who have an episode of alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS).
Methods: We studied a cohort of 1,265 individuals with severe AWS who were admitted to a single university hospital between 1996 and 2006. Median age was 49 years (range 18 to 89 years). A total of 1,085 (85.8%) were men. Median follow-up was 34 months (range 0 to 121 months). Survival of patients with AWS was compared with that of a reference cohort of 1,362 individuals from the same area. In addition, age- and sex-standardized mortality ratios were calculated using the general population from the region (Galicia, Spain) as the reference.
Results: The risk of mortality was higher in the cohort of patients with AWS than in the reference cohort after adjusting for age, sex, and smoking (hazard ratio 12.7; 95% CI 9.1 to 17.6; p < 0.001). The standardized mortality ratio in patients with AWS was 8.6 (95% CI 7.7 to 9.7). Age, smoking, serum creatinine, serum bilirubin, and prothrombin time at baseline were independently associated with mortality among patients with AWS.
Conclusions: Long-term mortality is highly increased in patients who have a history of AWS. Liver and kidney dysfunction are independent predictors of long-term mortality in patients with AWS.