-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, March 22 (HealthDay News) -- Seniors who are
hospitalized for pneumonia are at high risk for long-term physical
and mental problems that can impair their ability to care for
themselves, according to a new study.
The study looked at data on about 1,400 adults older than 50 who
survived more than 1,700 hospitalizations for pneumonia, heart
attack or stroke. The effects of pneumonia were comparable to those
seen in people who survive a heart attack or stroke, the
Patients who required hospital care for pneumonia -- including
those hospitalized just once during a nine-year period and those
who did not require critical care -- had a more than two-fold
increased risk of a decline in mental abilities. The effects could
be so severe that they led to disability and admission to a nursing
The study also found that patients hospitalized for pneumonia
had a nearly two times increased risk of depression, and were at
increased risk of losing the ability to do routine activities such
as walking, cooking and using the bathroom without assistance.
The findings were published online March 15 in the
American Journal of Medicine.
"Pneumonia is clearly not only an acute life-threatening event, but also a profoundly life-altering event," study senior author Dr. Theodore Iwashyna, an assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan, said in a university news release.
"The potentially substantial chronic care needs and diminished quality of life for survivors are comparable to the effects of heart disease, yet we invest far fewer resources in pneumonia prevention," he said.
Prevention methods include timely and proper use of antibiotics,
vaccination against the flu and screening older adults for
depression following pneumonia.
Each year in the United States pneumonia in seniors leads to
nearly 400,000 hospitalizations, which cost Medicare more than $7.3
billion, according to the news release. Those hospitalizations are
expected to double by 2040.
Although the study found an association between pneumonia
hospitalization and increased risk of decline in seniors, it did
not establish a cause-and-effect relationship.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more
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