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Med Clin (Barc). 2013 Jun 18;140(12):546-53. doi: 10.1016/j.medcli.2012.09.011. Epub 2012 Nov 21.

[Alcohol and acute respiratory distress syndrome: casuality or causality?].

[Article in Spanish]

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Servicio de Medicina Intensiva, Hospital Germans Trias i Pujol, Badalona, Barcelona, España.


Alcohol has been considered an important risk factor for the development of pneumonia since the last century. Nevertheless, it was not thought that it had relevant effects on lung structure and functions until recently. Recent studies have shown that the risk for acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is 2-4 times higher among alcoholic patients with sepsis or trauma, and that alcoholism can play a roll in more than 50% of cases in the pathogenesis of this syndrome. Although alcoholism per se does not cause acute lung injury it predisposes to pulmonary dysfunction after inflammatory stress, that is present in clinical situations that cause ARDS leading to its development and complicating its outcome. Recent investigations in animals and humans with alcohol abuse have uncovered several alterations currently known as the "alcoholic lung". This revision discusses the association between alcohol abuse and lung injury/ARDS and tries to explain the physiopathology along with possible treatments.

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