The incidence of ARDS is estimated at 64 cases in 100,000 people, or 190,000 cases per year in the US. This incidence rate is 2 to 40 times greater than previous estimates, which probably does not represent a rising incidence but rather a historical under-estimation. The incidence of ARDS may be higher in the US than in Europe and other developed countries, although evidence suggests that rates in the US may be declining.
The mortality of ARDS is approximately 30% to 50%, although mortality in large clinical trials seems to be steadily decreasing. The distinction between mild (PaO₂/FiO₂ 200-300), moderate (PaO₂/FiO₂ 100-200), and severe (PaO₂/FiO₂ ≤100) ARDS has been associated with clinical outcomes. Ongoing research suggests there are at least two discrete ARDS sub-phenotypes, although the clinical implications of this are under investigation.
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