Alcohol abstinence in patients surviving an episode of alcoholic hepatitis: Prediction and impact on long-term survival

José Altamirano, Hugo López-Pelayo, Javier Michelena, Patricia D. Jones, Lluisa Ortega, Pere Ginès, Juan Caballería, Antoni Gual, Ramón Bataller, Anna Lligoña

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Alcoholic hepatitis (AH) is the most severe form of alcoholic liver disease. Most studies have focused on short-term prognosis, whereas factors associated with long-term survival are largely unknown. The aims of our study were to (1) determine the impact of complete abstinence from alcohol on long-term survival and (2) identify prognostic factors at admission capable of predicting abstinence during long-term follow-up in patients with AH. One hundred forty-two patients with biopsy-proven AH that survived the first episode were included. Demographic, psychiatric, and biochemical variables at admission and drinking status during follow-up were obtained. Cox regression, logistic regression, and classification and regression trees (CART) analyses were used for statistical analysis. Overall mortality was 38% with a median follow-up of 55 months. During follow-up, complete abstinence was reported in 39% and was associated with better long-term survival (hazard ratio, 0.53; P = 0.03). After adjustment for baseline prognostic scoring systems (Model for End-Stage Liver Disease and age, bilirubin, international normalized ratio, creatinine scores), complete abstinence was independently associated with survival (P < 0.05). Age and lack of past alcoholism treatments were independently associated with complete abstinence (P < 0.001 and P = 0.02, respectively) during follow-up. CART analysis generated a simple and practical algorithm based on the combination of past alcoholism treatments and age. Using CART analysis, we stratified 2 subgroups of patients with high (65%) and low (26%-29%) rates of complete abstinence after an episode of AH. Conclusion: Complete abstinence after an episode of AH positively impacts long-term survival. The combination of 2 variables easily obtained at admission might be useful to predict long-term abstinence after an episode of AH. Strategies aimed at promoting alcohol abstinence in these patients are necessary. (Hepatology 2017;66:1842–1853).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1842-1853
Number of pages12
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology


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