In pneumonia, the long-term consequences can be more detrimental to a person's health than having a heart attack.
This is according to a joint research from the University of Michigan Health System and University of Washington School of Medicine.
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.
Patients who were treated for pneumonia - including those hospitalized even once in a nine-year period and who did not require critical care - were more than twice as likely to develop new cognitive impairments. These new brain problems were so big that they often lead to disability and nursing home admissions among older adults. After treatment for pneumonia, patients also had nearly double the risk of substantial depressive symptoms.
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."
Pneumonia accounts for roughly 390,000 hospitalizations among older adults a year, costing Medicare more than $7.3 billion - and hospitalizations for the condition are expected to double by 2040. Nearly half of pneumonia survivors die within a year.
Prevention methods include improved timeliness and appropriateness of antibiotics, vaccination against influenza and screening older adults for depression following pneumonia.