Studies exploring differences between comorbidity (i.e., the co-existence of additional diseases with reference to an index condition) and multimorbidity (i.e., the presence of multiple diseases in which no one holds priority) are lacking. In this single-center, observational study conducted in an academic, internal medicine ward, we aimed to evaluate the prevalence of patients with two or more multiple chronic conditions (MCC), comorbidity, or multimorbidity, correlating them with other patients’ characteristics. The three categories were compared to the Cumulative Illness Rating Scale (CIRS) comorbidity index, age, gender, polytherapy, 30-day readmission, in-hospital and 30-day mortalities. Overall, 1394 consecutive patients (median age 80 years, IQR 69–86; F:M ratio 1.16:1) were included. Of these, 1341 (96.2%; median age 78 years, IQR 65–84; F:M ratio 1.17:1) had MCC. Fifty-three patients (3.8%) had no MCC, 286 (20.5%) had comorbidity, and 1055 (75.7%) had multimorbidity, showing a statistically significant (p < 0.001) increasing age trend (median age 38 years vs 71 vs 82, respectively) and increasing mean CIRS comorbidity index (1.53 ± 0.95 vs 2.97 ± 1.43 vs 4.09 ± 1.70, respectively). The CIRS comorbidity index was always higher in multimorbid patients, but only in the subgroups 75–84 years and ≥ 85 years was a significant (p < 0.001) difference (1.24 and 1.36, respectively) noticed. At multivariable analysis, age was always independently associated with in-hospital mortality (p = 0.002), 30-day mortality (p < 0.001), and 30-day readmission (p = 0.037), while comorbidity and multimorbidity were not. We conclude that age determines the most important differences between comorbid and multimorbid patients, as well as major outcomes, in a hospital setting.
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