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Hospitalization for Pneumonia on the Rise Among Elderly

Study suggests pneumonia rates may be due to increase in comorbid conditions

TUESDAY, Dec. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Hospitalizations for pneumonia increased by 20% between 1988 and 2002 in patients aged 64 to 85, and an increasing prevalence of comorbid conditions such as heart disease and diabetes may be the reason why, according to a report in the Dec. 7 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. One in 20 patients over age 85 is hospitalized for pneumonia every year.

Alicia M. Fry, M.D., M.P.H., and colleagues from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention screened National Hospital Discharge Survey data for trends in hospitalization for pneumonia and comorbid diagnoses in three age groups of persons 65 years or older (65-74 years, 75-84 years, 85 years or older).

Hospitalization rates by first-listed and any-listed discharge codes increased for those aged 65 to 84 between 1988 and 2002. Among those 85 or older, more than one in 20 patients were hospitalized for pneumonia and their rates of hospitalization for pneumonia were twice as high as for the younger group.

The proportion of patients hospitalized with a comorbid disease, including heart disease and diabetes, also increased during the study period from 66% to 77%.

"Efforts to prevent pneumonia should include reducing preventable comorbid conditions and improving vaccine effectiveness and vaccination programs in elderly persons," the authors conclude.

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