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Pneumonia More Deadly Than Hip Fractures for Hospitalized Seniors

THURSDAY, April 23, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Seniors hospitalized with pneumonia are much more likely to die in the hospital and within two years of leaving the hospital than those with hip fractures, new research shows.

But many older people don't recognize the serious threat posed by pneumonia, the researchers said. The study took place in 2009 to 2015, years before the coronavirus pandemic and its respiratory effects became a well-known threat to human life.

For the study, the investigators compared outcomes among patients in France, aged 80 and older, who were hospitalized for either pneumonia (nearly 12,200) or hip fractures (nearly 4,800).

The pneumonia patients had a greater number of other health problems ("co-morbidities") and a higher in-hospital death rate than the hip fracture patients (about 18% versus 5.4%, respectively).

After adjusting for co-morbidities, frailty scores, age and sex, the overall risk of death within two years after hospitalization was 80% higher among the pneumonia patients than among the hip fracture patients.

The research, which should be considered preliminary, was scheduled for presentation at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID). However, the meeting was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite the threat posed by pneumonia, many seniors don't understand their risk from the common lung infection, the researchers said. This results in inadequate pneumonia prevention efforts, especially low use of vaccines.

In contrast, breaking a hip is viewed as a major concern for seniors, noted study author Leslie Grammatico-Guillon, from the University of Tours in France, and colleagues.

"We hope that placing the consequences of pneumonia in relation to the consequences of a hip fracture may provide useful perspective for discussions of pneumonia and its prevention with aging populations," the authors said in an ECCMID news release.

"The population, but also their caregivers and clinical practitioners, should be more aware of the risk from this disease. Better recognition will improve the prevention of pneumonia by increasing uptake of vaccines, such as influenza and pneumococcus," the team concluded.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more on pneumonia.

SOURCE: European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, news release, April 17, 2020

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