Older adults who are hospitalized for pneumonia have a significantly higher risk of new problems that affect their ability to care for themselves, and the effects are comparable to those who survive a heart attack or stroke, according to the new findings in the American Journal of Medicine.
"Pneumonia is clearly not only an acute life threatening event but also a profoundly life altering event," says senior author Theodore J. Iwashyna, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of internal medicine at U-M and who also works with the Institute of Social Research and the VA Center for Clinical Management Research. "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 to pneumonia prevention."
Following hospitalization, patients with pneumonia also had much increased risk of losing the ability to maintain daily life activities such as walking, cooking meals or being able to use the bathroom without assistance.
"Even non-critical pneumonia hospitalization can lead to long term adverse outcomes at a magnitude much greater than we previously thought," says lead author Dimitry S. Davydow, M.D, M.P.H., assistant professor of psychiatry at U-W. "Pneumonia prevention and interventions are crucial given the costly and detrimental consequences for patients."
Prevention methods include improved timeliness and appropriateness of antibiotics, vaccination against influenza and screening older adults for depression following pneumonia.
The study was conducted with participants of the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally-representative sample of older Americans that is conducted by the U-M Institute for Social Research on behalf of the National Institute of Aging.
Additional Authors: Catherine L. Hough, M.D., M.Sc., U-W; Deborah A. Levine, M.D., M.P.H., U-M and VA; Kenneth M. Langa, M.D., Ph.D., U-M and VA.
Reference: "Functional Disability, Cognitive Impairment, and
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