New research by Dr. Dean Eurich, associate professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta, shows serious, long-term health implications for adults diagnosed with community-acquired pneumonia (CAP). The study was recently published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
Between 2000 and 2002, the researchers recruited over 6,000 patients with CAP from six hospitals and seven emergency departments in Edmonton, Alberta. The group was examined against nearly 30,000 other individuals who had never had pneumonia over a nine-year period.
Rates of mortality and morbidity are significantly higher in CAP patients when compared to individuals who had never had pneumonia during the nine-year period. During the study, 2,858 CAP patients died compared to 9399 control patients, a risk difference of 30 excess deaths per 1000 patients. The study also demonstrated a greater likelihood of hospitalization, emergency department visits and CAP-related health-care encounters for CAP patients.
Young adults diagnosed with CAP had the worst relative outcomes of all patients. While those under 25 are less likely to be infected, those who do get CAP have a two-fold increase in risk of mortality compared to patients who had never had pneumonia.
“Our results suggest that CAP ought to be considered the young adult’s adversary,” says Dr. Eurich. “We have likely underestimated the cost effectiveness, impact and importance of the immunization to prevent pneumonia.”
“These results are very important from a public health perspective,” explains Dr. Eurich. “In many cases, infections can be prevented, and the associated negative health risks can be avoided altogether.”