In a study of 46 patients from six hospitals with severe community-acquired pneumonia, a 7-day course of low-dose hydrocortisone infusion hastened the resolution of the patients' pneumonia and prevented the development of life-threatening sepsis-related complications. The researchers infused hydrocortisone in 23 patients as an intravenous 200-mg bolus followed by infusion at a rate of 10 mg per hour for 7 days. Another group of 23 pneumonia patients received a placebo of sterile saline in an equal volume. In the control group, one patient admitted with septic shock died on Study Day 3, and nine patients developed delayed septic shock that was complicated by acute respiratory distress syndrome in four. One additional control patient developed septic shock after Day 8. In contrast, in the hydrocortisone group, the two patients who were admitted with septic shock were weaned off agents to increase their blood pressure (vasopressors) by Days 3 and 5; no other patient developed sepsis-related complications. Although mortality for patients admitted to an intensive care unit for severe community-acquired pneumonia is high (22 to 54 percent), survival to hospital discharge in the study patients was 100 percent in the hydrocortisone group, and 70 percent in the control group. The study appears in the first issue for February 2005 of the American Thoracic Society's peer-reviewed American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
SILDENAFIL PROTECTS AGAINST ALTITUDE-INDUCED PULMONARY PROBLEMS
A drug commonly prescribed for male erectile dysfunction, sildenafil, is capable of protecting men against the development of high altitude-induced pulmonary hypertension, helps to improve pulmonary gas exchange, and limits altitude-induced hypoxemia (deficient oxygenation of the blood). Researchers measured the effects of oral si
Contact: Cathy Carlomagno
American Thoracic Society