In the new study by Cedars-Sinai investigators, the researchers analysed de-identified mortality data for seven years-2012-2019-from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention database that registers more than 99 per cent of all deaths in the U.S. They then used predictive modeling to determine 2020 and 2021 projected mortality rates based on previous years’ trends, and compared those with the rates that were actually observed,
Lead Author of the study Yee Hui Yeo said that they found an increase in deaths due to alcohol use disorder. The study also revealed that deaths among adults 25 to 44 years had a steep upward trend, Though the study was held with US data, the research pertains to other countries as well.
“During the first few months of the pandemic, my colleagues and I saw increased numbers of patients being treated for acute alcohol use-related conditions in the intensive care unit and through out the medical center,” said Yee Hui Yeo. “We also became aware of reports from single centers of elevated alcohol use-related complications. That prompted us to think, maybe this is a significant public health crisis.”
“What we found in our analysis reflects what we had been seeing anecdotally in our patients and in academic papers tracking complications like alcohol related liver disease,” Yeo said. “We also know that alcohol use disorder is often under-reported, so actual mortality rates related to alcohol use may be even higher than reported,” the author said.
“In publishing this article, we want everyone, especially policymakers and physicians on the front lines, to know that during the pandemic, there is really a significant surge in alcohol use disorder-related deaths,” Yeo said. “We also want to recognize that patients who die from alcohol use disorder-related causes tend to have social determinants of health, like lower socioeconomic status, that can make it harder for them to access healthcare and help. Finally, we want to make sure that patients who do seek treatment for alcohol or substance use have access to follow-up care to prevent secondary complications.”
- In 2021, the observed rates were about 22% higher than projected.
- The increase in predicted versus observed mortality was similar for both sexes-approximately 25% for women and men in 2020 versus 20% for women and 22% for men in 2021.
- Although the older adult group had the highest mortality rate throughout the study period, it was the younger group (ages 25-44 years) who suffered the greatest surge during the pandemic, which warrants public attention.