Pneumonia is among the top 10 causes of death in the United States and is a significant cause of outpatient visits and hospitalizations, according to background information in the article. Factors that increase the risk for pneumonia include the presence of underlying medical conditions, advanced age, functional disability, and residency in long-term care facilities.
Alicia M. Fry, M.D., M.P.H., of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, and colleagues conducted a study to determine if an increase in chronic underlying conditions might be contributing to greater hospitalization rates for pneumonia. The researchers used data from the National Hospital Discharge Survey (NHDS) to study trends according to age groups in hospitalization rates for pneumonia during a 15-year period (1988-2002) among U.S. residents aged 65 years or older. The characteristics, outcomes, and comorbid (co-existing illness) disease diagnoses of patients with a hospital discharge diagnosis of pneumonia were compared with those of patients with a hospital discharge diagnosis for other causes during the study period.
The researchers found that hospitalization rates for pneumonia increased by 20 percent from 1988-1990 to 2000-2002 for patients aged 65 to 74 years and for patients aged 75 to 84 years. Rates of hospitalization for pneumonia were 2-fold higher for patients aged 85 years or older (51 per 1,000 population for first-listed discharge code of pneumonia) than among patients aged 75 to 84 years but did not significantly increase from 1988-1990 to 2000-2002. The proportion of patients aged 65 years or older diagnosed with pneumonia and a chronic cardiac disease, chronic pulmonary disease, or diabetes mellitus increased from 66 percent in 1988-1990 to 77 percent in 2000-2002. During 2000-2002, app
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