Nutrients. 2023 Sep 21;15(18):4084. doi: 10.3390/nu15184084.
Refeeding syndrome (RFS) is a serious metabolic disturbance that manifests after reintroducing nutrition to severely malnourished individuals. Especially susceptible are older patients, due to higher malnutrition rates, although the incidence remains uncertain. Our study aimed to assess the occurrence and management of RFS in malnourished older hospitalized patients. This prospective study included 156 malnourished older patients, with malnutrition identified using the Mini Nutritional Assessment-Short Form. We evaluated critical biochemical parameters at admission and for ten days after starting nutritional therapy. Using the consensus evidence-based approach, we managed and evaluated RFS. We also tracked mortality and unexpected hospital readmissions for six months after discharge. The average patient age was 82.3 ± 7.5 years, with 69% female. Patients showed hypophosphatemia (23%), hypomagnesemia (31%), and hypokalemia (6%) on admission. Prior to nutritional replenishment, patients were classified as being at low (64%), high (30%), or very high risk (6%) for RFS. After nutritional therapy, 14% and 5% developed imminent and manifest RFS, respectively. There were no significant differences in six-month post-discharge mortality rates or unexpected hospital readmissions between patients with or without RFS. Despite adherence to guideline-recommended management, RFS can persist. No elevated mortality was noted in RFS patients, potentially due to early diagnosis and treatment.