Rate of Serious Infection Rising Among Elderly

CDC says hospitalizations due to infection rose 13 percent since 1990

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MONDAY, Nov. 28, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- An aging population is helping drive up hospitalization rates for infectious diseases among older American adults, according a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Reporting in the Nov. 28 issue of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, CDC researchers analyzed national hospital discharge data to estimate hospitalization rates for older adults from 1990 through 2002.

Over that period, there were about 21.4 million infectious-disease hospitalizations among older adults and 48 percent of those listed the infection as the primary diagnosis.

Between 1990-92 and 2000-02, there was a 13 percent rise in infectious-disease hospitalizations, from 449.4 to 507.9 hospitalizations per 10,000 older adults.

Hospitalization rates for lower respiratory tract infections and kidney, urinary tract, and bladder infections did not change significantly between 1990-92 and 2000-02. However, there were dramatic increases in the rates of heart infections, infections and inflammatory reactions to prosthetic devices, and postoperative infections -- up 240 percent, 130 percent, and 80 percent, respectively.

The rate for septicemia (infection of the bloodstream) increased 22 percent.

"The hospitalization rate for IDs (infectious diseases) increased slightly among the older adult U.S. population during the 13-year study and was associated with the aging of the older adult population," the study authors wrote.

Reducing the rate of hospitalization linked to infection "should be a high priority given the projected population growth among older adults in the United States," they said.

More information

The American Geriatrics Society has more about infectious illness and older adults.

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, Nov. 28, 2005

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