The Changing Epidemiology of Adrenal Insufficiency: Iatrogenic Factors Predominate
Published: 6 January 2023
Abstract: Context: Adrenal insufficiency (AI)-related morbidity persists despite efforts to minimize its effect. Reasons for this are unknown and warrant examination.Objective: This work aimed to investigate trends in AI hospitalizations and glucocorticoid (GC) replacement therapy use.Methods: Data on hospitalizations for a principal diagnosis of AI and prescriptions for short-acting GCs between 2000 and 2019 were extracted from national repositories. Age-standardized admission and prescription rates were calculated using census data. Rates were compared over time overall and according to age, sex, and disease subtype.Results: AI admissions increased by 62.0%, from 36.78/million to 59.59/million (trend P < .0001). Adrenal crisis (AC) admissions also increased, by 90.1% (from 10.73/million to 20.40/million; trend, P < .00001). These increases were more pronounced in the second decade. Prescriptions for short-acting GCs also increased (by 67.2%, from 2198.36/million in 2000/2001 to 3676.00/million in 2017/2018). Females had higher average admission rates and a greater increase in admission rates than males. Increased AI admissions were found in all age groups among females but only in men aged 70+ yrs. Secondary AI (SAI) admission rates increased by 91.7%, whereas admission rates for primary AI (PAI) remained unchanged.Conclusion: The prevalence of AI and hospitalizations for this disorder (including ACs) have increased since 2000, with a greater increase occurring after 2010. Admission rates for SAI increased but PAI admissions remained stable. Possible causes include immunotherapies for malignancy, increased cranial imaging detecting pituitary tumors and their subsequent treatment, and increased use of low-dose, short-acting GC-replacement therapy.
Keywords: hospitalizations / treatment / Adrenal / admission rates / increased / increase in admission / therapy / acting
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