Purpose: Old (>64 years) and very old (>79 years) intensive care patients with sepsis have a high mortality. In the very old, the value of critical care has been questioned. We aimed to compare the mortality, rates of organ support, and the length of stay in old vs. very old patients with sepsis and septic shock in intensive care.
Methods: This analysis included 9,385 patients, from the multi-center eICU Collaborative Research Database, with sepsis; 6184 were old (aged 65–79 years), and 3,201 were very old patients (aged 80 years and older). A multi-level logistic regression analysis was used to fit three sequential regression models for the binary primary outcome of ICU mortality. A sensitivity analysis in septic shock patients (n = 1054) was also conducted.
Results: In the very old patients, the median length of stay was shorter (50 ± 67 vs. 56 ± 72 h; p < 0.001), and the rate of a prolonged ICU stay was lower (>168 h; 9 vs. 12%; p < 0.001) than the old patients. The mortality from sepsis was higher in very old patients (13 vs. 11%; p = 0.005), and after multi-variable adjustment being very old was associated with higher odds for ICU mortality (aOR 1.32, 95% CI 1.09–1.59; p = 0.004). In patients with septic shock, mortality was also higher in the very old patients (38 vs. 36%; aOR 1.50, 95% CI 1.10–2.06; p = 0.01).
Conclusion: Very old ICU-patients suffer from a slightly higher ICU mortality compared with old ICU-patients. However, despite the statistically significant differences in mortality, the clinical relevance of such minor differences seems to be negligible.