Pneumonia’s long-term effects comparable to MI

By | 2022-02-23T14:38:51-05:00 March 20th, 2013|7 Comments

The long-term consequences of pneumonia can be more detrimental to a person’s health than having a myocardial infarction, according to a study.

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 MI or stroke, reported researchers with the University of Michigan Health System and University of Washington School of Medicine.

“Pneumonia is clearly not only an acute life-threatening event but also a profoundly life-altering event,” Theodore J. Iwashyna, MD, PhD, the study’s senior author and an assistant professor of internal medicine at U-M, said in a news release.

“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 in pneumonia prevention,” added Iwashyna, also of the Institute of Social Research and the VA Center for Clinical Management Research.

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 often led 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 significantly 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,” said Dimitry S. Davydow, MD, MPH, 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.

The study was published March 15 on the website of the Journal of American Medicine.

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  1. Avatar
    Robert Alderman July 7, 2017 at 11:16 pm - Reply

    I had pneumonia and a year later bi-lateral pneumonia. Five days in the hospital.
    Since the bi-lateral I have had difficulty with my oxygen intake. I am having to move from 6,700 feet elevation due to breathing difficulties. I feel better at below 5,000 feet. I am moving to 3,600 feet.
    Anyone else experience these kinds of symptoms?

  2. Avatar
    Mike Forrester January 20, 2018 at 5:46 am - Reply

    I’m not even sure that I had pneumonia but I do know this I’m only 56 years old and I can’t walk up a slight incline without running out of breath I have passed out or fingered whatever you want to use on several occasions cuz I overexerted myself I would like to know if there is a cure for what ails me

  3. Avatar
    Mike Forrester January 20, 2018 at 5:49 am - Reply

    If there’s anybody out there that can help me please feel free to contact me at 510-941-9753 text or call please

  4. Avatar
    Luke July 15, 2018 at 5:44 am - Reply

    Wow. I had pneumonia and it kept coming back for about a year. The first time I was diagnosed and treated by a family doctor. I was hospitalized once during this time. I woke up in the middle of the night feeling a sharp pain in my lungs and it was to and hurt to breath normally. I remember the doctor comparing it to jelly.. Anyways it just kept coming back. I almost got dropped from school at the end of sophomore year. I did get dropped after the first semester of Jr. Year. It hurt, but I was a semesester ahead at that point so I thought I could recover. I re-enrolled for next semesester. At that point i started ro have a har time getting up and I lost my motivation. My mom had me diagnosed with depression and anxiety. The medicine they gave never did anything. I stopped taking it on my own a year and a half later. I ended up getting dropped again and an I reenrolled at new school. I got dropped for attendance again and dropped out. Later I enrolled at community college and tested into all of the highest freshmen course. Still, I have a really hard time finding my motivation. I messed up on a few classes but overall I’ve passed the most of the classes I’ve taken. Still never really linked pneumonia as the cause for depression.

  5. Avatar
    Joe December 18, 2018 at 8:45 pm - Reply

    Had pneumonia 2 years ago ,have never fully recovered, still get out of breath and suffer from slight depression, I don’t know if any one else has the same.

    • Avatar
      Sean June 3, 2020 at 3:24 am - Reply

      I feel you. I had pneumonia two years ago and sepsis from it. I still never felt right. My lungs feel heavy all the time and exercise is so much harder than it used to be. I used to run marathons and now 2 miles feels like 20 every time. Breathing is still a harder than before. A lot harder. Some days are better than others, but it still doesn’t feel right. I do get depressed periodically. It is hard to explain as you probably know and I understand what you mean.

  6. Avatar
    Elizabeth Mendoza July 18, 2020 at 4:37 pm - Reply

    I had pneumonia 3 x last year with the 1st time being extremely critical. Waking up during the night unable to catch a breath at all but too weak to care. Although, if anything puts the fear of God into you it has to be when you attempt to draw in air and your lungs seem to not respond. I just know I awoke in intensive care on an air ventilated machine and oxygen afterwards. The first intensive care stay was for 14 days.
    Today I am unable to step up the two small steps at my front house door without the assistance of my fiance. I constantly notice I am short of breath upon any exertion what so ever. This also is a scary symptom and even occurs as I eat and chewing. This happens every time. I also become extremely lethargic and feel as if I am about to pass out if I am standing. This really impacts my ability to cook, take showers, get dressed, walk my dog just about any task that gets me up and out of my bed.
    It is not at all curious why one would be depressed if their life becomes so dependent on others and/or tools that assist when independence is so important and has been life as always known. It is a huge adjustment just accepting the sacrifice of becoming reliant on others.

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