Tall patients fare better in ICU – Study

The findings of a new study, published in the Journal of Intensive Care Medicine, have shown that tall patients have higher chances of survival in intensive care units (ICU) during treatment.

Hannah Wunsch, from Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto, and colleagues looked at the data of patients who were admitted to 210 ICUs in the United Kingdom between 2009 and 2015.

This study was conducted using data from 400,000 critically ill adults. Those who were shortest among them, standing at 4 feet, 6 inches, were 29 percent (men) and 24 percent (women) more prone to dying in the hospital than the tallest—6 feet, 6 inches, the study found.

Among those who are tall, the risk of dying is 21 percent for male and 17 percent for females.

Taller heights were also predictive of the tendency to leave for home early form the hospitals, the study also found.

No direct causal relationship

The study did not say that height was solely responsible for the death. However, Dr. Hannah Wunsch said:

“There are often devices and tubes that are put into people that come in one size or can’t easily be varied to accommodate different size individuals.”

“Sure enough, we found that even after we accounted for other factors that we know account for someone dying in the hospital, there was a pretty strong relationship between the height of an individual and their mortality.”

“We can’t say for sure why this is happening. It’s speculative that all the things we do to people might in some way be harmful to patients who are smaller.” 

You can read more on this fascinating study on the Journal of Intensive Care Medicine. Please note that a paid subscription may be required to assess the full article.

Further information

Hannah Wunsch, M.D., Department of Critical Care Medicine, Sunnybrook Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Mark Astiz, M.D., chairman, Critical Care Medicine, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Intensive Care Medicine, Dec. 23, 2018.

Samuel Abiona

Samuel Abiona

Samuel Abiona is a medical doctor by training and a writer by passion. Samuel holds a postgraduate degree in Public Health. He believes that communicating medical knowledge goes beyond writing technical reviews. Samuel thus uses his expertise in public health and health systems research to transmit technical information for both academic and general audience. Please email samuel.abiona@essaysinhealth.com to contact this author directly or use the contact page and your information will be passed on to him.