Send to

Choose Destination
Alcohol. 2014 Jun;48(4):391-400. doi: 10.1016/j.alcohol.2014.01.008. Epub 2014 Apr 24.

Complications associated with blood alcohol concentration following injury.

Author information

University of Illinois, School of Public Health, Division of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, Chicago, IL 60612, USA; The Social Policy Research Institute, Skokie, IL 60076, USA. Electronic address:


Alcohol increases the risk of injuring oneself and others. However, following an injury there appears to be a benefit to alcohol in mediating the body's response to a traumatic injury and reducing mortality. The physiological mechanism underlying this reported association is poorly understood. One approach to explaining the pathways by which alcohol affects acute mortality following a traumatic injury is to identify differential prevalence of medical complications associated with increased mortality. The goal of this study was to evaluate the association between blood alcohol concentration and complications subsequent to a traumatic injury that are associated with increased in-hospital mortality. This study involved a retrospective analysis of traumatic injuries occurring between 2000 and 2009 as reported by all level I and II trauma units in the state of Illinois. The study includes all patients with blood alcohol toxicological examination levels ranging from zero to 500 mg/dL and meeting additional inclusion criteria (n = 84,974). A reduction in complications of cardiac and renal function by 23.5% and 30.0%, respectively, was attributable to blood alcohol concentration. In addition, blood alcohol concentration was associated with fewer cases of pneumothorax and convulsions. However, blood alcohol concentration continued to be positively associated with aspiration pneumonitis and acute pancreatitis in the final models. The net impact of alcohol following an injury is protective, largely attributable to a reduction in complications relating to cardiac and renal function. This study helps to explain the observed protective effect from blood alcohol concentrations in reducing in-hospital mortality after an injury, as reported in many studies.


Alcohol; Complications; Dose–response; Ethanol; Heart failure; Mortality; Renal failure; Trauma

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center