Characteristics of patients with community-acquired pneumococcal pneumonia

Alexander A. Padiglione, Jessika Willis, Michael Bailey, Christopher K. Fairley

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Objective: To describe the level of activity, independence and demographics of elderly people hospitalised with community-acquired pneumococcal pneumonia. Design: Prospective descriptive study. Setting: Seven university-affiliate hospitals and three community hospitals. Patients: People aged over 55 years admitted to hospital with a clinical history consistent with pneumococcal pneumonia, a Streptococcus pneumoniae isolate in blood or sputum, and a chest x-ray consistent with pneumonia. Significant immunosuppression or certain comorbidities (parenchymal lung disease and end-stage renal failure) were exclusion criteria. Main outcome measure: Level of independence, assessed by participation in a range of standardised activities before the patient's illness. Results: 82 patients met our case definition. Five refused to participate, leaving 77 evaluable patients. The patients had high levels of independence: 64 (83%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 73%-91%) lived in their own home and 69 (90%; 95% CI, 81%-95%) participated in regular hobbies. Exercise tolerance was good, with 43 (56%; 95% CI, 45%-68%) able to climb a flight of stairs and 59 (76%; 95% CI, 65%-85%) able to walk more than 50 m without stopping; 41 (53%; 95% CI, 41%-64%) could continue further than a kilometre. Mortality was low (9 patients; 12%) despite a high rate of bacteraemia (43 patients; 56%). Within the past five years, 59 (77%) had been hospitalised and 53 (69%) vaccinated with influenza vaccine. Only 7% had ever received pneumococcal vaccination. Conclusion: Pneumococcal pneumonia is not the 'old man's friend'. It represents a major cause of morbidity and mortality in otherwise well, active and independent older Australians. Hospitalisation and attendance for influenza vaccination may represent opportunities for pneumococcal vaccination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-167
Number of pages3
JournalThe Medical Journal of Australia
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 1999

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