Alcohol-related hepatitis admissions decline in 2021 after a 2020 surge attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic

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Hepatol Int


OBJECTIVE: We previously investigated the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD), finding that admissions for alcoholic hepatitis (AH) increased by 50% in the summer of 2020 compared to the same period in 2016-2019. We have now expanded our analysis to consider full years' data and evaluate how rates changed in 2021. We also sought to identify factors associated with ICU admissions, need for dialysis, liver transplant evaluations, and death.

METHODS: Using retrospective data, we identified patients admitted to our four Detroit, Michigan area hospitals for acute ARLD for three periods pre-COVID (2016-February 2020), early COVID (June-December 2020), and late COVID (2021). Clustered logistic regression was performed to study rates of AH admissions across the three eras, where the patient was defined as the cluster and the analysis accounted for multiple encounters per cluster. A similar regression approach, univariate followed by multivariable analysis, was also used to study associations between patient characteristics and outcomes during hospitalization for AH.

RESULTS: AH-related admissions declined significantly from the early COVID to late COVID eras (OR 0.68, 95% CL 0.52, 0.88), returning to levels similar to that of the pre- COVID period (OR 1.18, 95% CL 0.96, 1.47). In multivariable analysis, baseline MELD score was associated with ICU admission, initiation of dialysis, transplant evaluation, and death while hospitalized for AH. Female patients were at almost twice the risk of death during admission compared to male patients (aOR 1.81, 95% CL 1.1, 2.98). Increasing age was associated with slightly lower odds of transplant (aOR 0.97, 95% CL 0.94, 1) and higher odds of death (aOR 1.03, 95% CL 1.01. 1.06).

CONCLUSION: After a spike in AH-related admissions during the first summer of the COVID-19 pandemic, rates declined significantly in 2021, returning to pre-pandemic levels.

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ePub ahead of print