BACKGROUND: The growing proportion of elderly intensive care patients constitutes a public health challenge. The benefit of critical care in these patients remains unclear. We compared outcomes in elderly versus very elderly subjects receiving mechanical ventilation. METHODS: In total, 5,557 mechanically ventilated subjects were included in our post hoc retrospective anal-ysis, a subgroup of the VENTILA study. We divided the cohort into 2 subgroups on the basis of age: very elderly subjects (age ≥ 80 y; n = 1,430), and elderly subjects (age 65–79 y; n = 4,127). A propensity score on being very elderly was calculated. Evaluation of associations with 28-d mortality was done with logistic regression analysis. RESULTS: Very elderly subjects were clinically sicker as expressed by higher SAPS II scores (53 ± 18 vs 50 ± 18, P <.001), and their rates of plateau pressure < 30 cm H2O were higher, whereas other parameters did not differ. The 28-d mortality was higher in very elderly subjects (42% vs 34%, P <.001) and remained unchanged after propensity score adjustment (adjusted odds ratio 1.31 [95% CI 1.16–1.49], P <.001). CONCLUSIONS: Age was an independent and unchangeable risk factor for death in mechanically ventilated subjects. However, survival rates of very elderly subjects were > 50%. Denial of critical care based solely on age is not justified.
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