Malnutrition in hospitalized elderly patients: When does it matter?

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51 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Identifying the individual effects of acute illness and malnutrition on elderly patient outcome and the timing of nutritional support is still an important challenge for modern medicine. Objective: The aims of this study were to assess the practical significance of serum albumin concentrations following acute illness as a measure of nutritional status in ageing patients and also to review recently published studies related to this field. Design: Consecutive stroke patients had their nutritional status assessed from anthropometric, haematological and biochemical data during the hospital stay. Predicted energy needs and daily in-hospital energy intake were also studied in a subgroup of 24 acute stroke patients and 24 age and sex-matched hospitalized non-stroke patients. A multivariate analysis was used to measure the amount of variance in serum albumin concentrations explained by nutritional and non-nutritional clinical variables. Results: Serum albumin concentrations deteriorated steadily during the study period and there was an increase in the amount of variance in the serum albumin explained by nutritional variables between admission and week 4 of the hospital stay. Almost all patients studied were in negative energy balance during hospitalization. Evidence is provided which links low serum albumin concentrations with clinical outcomes during the hospital stay and immediately following discharge. That nutritional supplementation started one week as opposed to immediately following acute illness, and continued during the convalescent period, can improve serum albumin concentrations during the hospital stay. Conclusion: Poor nutritional status following acute illness in ageing patients may be of more prognostic significance and amenable to therapy later on during the course of hospitalization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)487-491
Number of pages5
JournalClinical Nutrition
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Acute stroke
  • Nutritional support
  • Outcome
  • Serum albumin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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