Vitamin C Can Shorten the Length of Stay in the ICU: A Meta-Analysis, 2019

Topics: antioxidants; burns; artificial respiration; cardiac surgical procedures; cardiovascular system; critical care; dietary supplements; oxidative stress; sepsis; systematic review

Authors: Harri Hemilä, Elizabeth Chalker

Abstract

A number of controlled trials have previously found that in some contexts, vitamin C can have beneficial effects on blood pressure, infections, bronchoconstriction, atrial fibrillation, and acute kidney injury. However, the practical significance of these effects is not clear. The purpose of this meta-analysis was to evaluate whether vitamin C has an effect on the practical outcomes: length of stay in the intensive care unit (ICU) and duration of mechanical ventilation. We identified 18 relevant controlled trials with a total of 2004 patients, 13 of which investigated patients undergoing elective cardiac surgery. We carried out the meta-analysis using the inverse variance, fixed effect options, using the ratio of means scale. In 12 trials with 1766 patients, vitamin C reduced the length of ICU stay on average by 7.8% (95% CI: 4.2% to 11.2%; p = 0.00003). In six trials, orally administered vitamin C in doses of 1⁻3 g/day (weighted mean 2.0 g/day) reduced the length of ICU stay by 8.6% (p = 0.003). In three trials in which patients needed mechanical ventilation for over 24 hours, vitamin C shortened the duration of mechanical ventilation by 18.2% (95% CI 7.7% to 27%; p = 0.001). Given the insignificant cost of vitamin C, even an 8% reduction in ICU stay is worth exploring. The effects of vitamin C on ICU patients should be investigated in more detail.

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