Alcohol dependent patients die about 7.6 years earlier on average than hospital patients without a history of alcohol addiction, warns a new study.
The study, published in the journal European Psychiatry, highlights how alcoholism affects both mental and physical health and calls for early treatment for addiction.
"Mental problems as well as significant physical health impairments are associated with alcohol addiction," explained Dieter Schoepf from the University of Bonn Hospital in Germany.
"Alcoholics who were treated in British general hospitals for health problems die an average of 7.6 years earlier than non-alcohol dependent patients; this is due to the interaction of several concomitant physical illnesses," Schoepf noted.
For the study, Schoepf and professor Reinhard Heun from the Royal Derby Hospital in England evaluated patient data extending over a 12.5-year period from seven general hospitals in Manchester.
Using these data, the scientists analysed comorbid physical illnesses of 23,371 hospital patients with alcohol dependence and compared them with those of a control group of 233,710 randomly selected patients without alcoholism.
"During the observation period, approximately one out of five hospital patients with alcoholism died in one of the hospitals, while only one out of twelve patients in the control group died," Heun pointed out.
"Through diligent screening and early treatment of concomitant mental and physical illnesses, it should be possible to significantly increase the life expectancy of alcoholic patients," Heun noted.