A surprisingly high percentage of men who are treated in hospital for urine retention die within 12 months, and now doctors believe they should be taking the condition more seriously.
Researchers, who monitored the case records of men admitted to a UK hospital between 1998 and 2005 for a first episode of acute urinary retention, made the discovery when they checked on the men's condition a year later.
To their surprise, they discovered a relatively high proportion had died. Around 4 per cent of men as young as 45 years had died within 12 months, and the figures worsened dramatically among older men. The death rate among men who were 75 years and older was as high as 45 per cent.
Overall, this means that one in seven men with sudden acute urinary retention die within a year, and this increases to one in four men with precipitated acute urinary retention. These rates are four times higher than the average for healthy men of a similar age.
(Source: British Medical Journal, 2007; 335: 1199-202).