Background: Hospitalization for older patients with community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) is associated with functional decline. Little is know about the relationship between inflammatory markers and determinants of functional status in this population. The aim of the study is to investigate the association between tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, C-reactive protein (CRP) and Activities of Daily Living, and to identify risk factors associated with one year mortality or hospital readmission.
Methods: 301 consecutive patients hospitalized for CAP (mean age 73.9 +/- 5.3 years) in a University affiliated hospital over 18 month period were included. All patients were evaluated on admission to identify baseline demographic, microbiological, cognitive and functional characteristics. Serum levels for TNF-alpha and CRP were collected at the same time. Reassessment of functional status at discharge, and monthly thereafter till 3 months post discharge was obtained and compared with preadmission level to document loss or recovery of functionality. Outcome was assessed by the composite endpoint of hospital readmission or death from any cause up to one year post hospital discharge.
Results: 36% of patients developed functional decline at discharge and 11% had persistent functional impairment at 3 months. Serum TNF-alpha (odds ratio [OR] 1.12, 95% CI 1.08-1.15; p < 0.001) and the Charlson Index (OR = 1.39, 95% CI 1.14 to 1.71; p = 0.001) but not age, CRP, or cognitive status were independently associated with loss of functionality at the time of hospital discharge. Lack of recovery in functional status at 3 months was associated with impaired cognitive ability and preadmission comorbidities. In Cox regression analysis, persistent functional impairment at 3 months, impaired cognitive function, and the Charlson Index were highly predictive of one year hospital readmission or death.
Conclusion: Serum TNF-alpha levels can be useful in determining patients at risk for functional impairment following hospitalization from CAP. Old patients with impaired cognitive function and preexisting comorbidities who exhibit delay in functional recovery at 3 months post discharge may be at high risk for hospital readmission and death. With the scarcity of resources, a future risk stratification system based on these findings might be proven helpful to target older patients who are likely to benefit from interventional strategies.