Providing an oral nutritional supplement during and after hospital admission was associated with a 50 percent lower death rate in older malnourished patients with heart and lung disease, according to a clinical study conducted by Texas A&M University Center for Translational Research in Aging & Longevity (CTRAL) director Dr. Nicolaas Deutz. He said the results prove the necessity of proper nutrition during the recovery process.
The study, titled “Nutrition Effect On Unplanned Readmissions and Survival in Hospitalized Patients” (NOURISH), is one of the largest clinical studies of its kind. It was conducted at more than 70 different sites and tested more than 600 malnourished patients over the age of 65.
“This study was set up by testing whether nutritional supplements reduced the re-admittance rates of patients,” Dr. Deutz said. “To study that, we tested patients with pneumonia, heart failures and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and had studied their readmission rates and mortality.”
Throughout the study, Dr. Deutz’s primary goal was to reduce the incidence of death or non-elective readmission, he said, adding nutrition is critical to proper recovery—a fact that was a key component in his research. “Malnourishment is defined as the situation in which the requirements of the body are not matched with the nutrition that is taken in,” he said. “When you’re healthy and you don’t eat enough, fat and muscle mass is lost. When you are sick however, your body actually needs more nutrients due to various factors.”
In order to aid and offset malnutrition, patients were given the nutritional supplement twice a day for 90 days post-hospital discharge. “Specialized nutritional supplements can often times be better than regular food,” Dr. Deutz said. “We created a nutritional supplement that contained all of the best components you can think of: high-quality protein, sufficient calories, vitamin D, and we added HMB, a component that has been shown to stop muscle loss.”
The results concluded that 20 patients should be treated to save one death and that mortality rates are reduced by 50 percent. “Nutrition is a very cheap intervention in malnourished patients,” he said. “People should understand that not eating enough when sick could lead to serious consequences.”
Dr. Deutz’s continued research will transition further with the opening of the new Human Clinical Research Facility at Texas A&M next year. There, he said, he plans to conduct more clinical research similar to NOURISH.
For more information, visit www.tamu.edu.