Long-Term Survival After Aspiration Pneumonia in Older Inpatients: A Comparative Study

J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2023 Jul;24(7):1088-1091. doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2023.04.014. Epub 2023 May 24.


Objectives: Aspiration pneumonia (AsP), a leading cause of death in older people, remains poorly studied. We aimed to evaluate short- and long-term prognosis after AsP in older inpatients.

Design: Retrospective cohort study.

Setting and participants: All consecutive patients aged ≥75 years hospitalized in a 62-bed acute geriatric unit during a 1-year period.

Methods: We compared clinical characteristics and overall 2-year survival between patients with a main diagnosis of AsP, patients with other types of acute pneumonia (non-AsP), and patients hospitalized for another cause.

Results: Among the 1774 patients hospitalized over 1 year (median age: 87 years, 41% female), 125 (7%) had a primary diagnosis of acute pneumonia, of whom 39 (31%) had AsP and 86 (69%) non-AsP. Patients with AsP were more frequently male, lived more frequently in a nursing home, and had a more frequent history of stroke or neurocognitive disorders. Mortality rates were much higher after AsP, reaching 31% at 30 days (vs 15% after Non-AsP and 11% in the rest of the cohort, P < .001), and 69% 2 years after admission (vs 56% and 49%, P < .001). After adjustment for confounders, AsP was significantly associated with mortality but non-AsP was not [adjusted hazard ratio (95% CI): 3.09 (1.72-5.57) at 30 days and 1.67 (1.13-2.45) at 2 years for AsP; 1.36 (0.77-2.39) and 1.14 (0.85-1.52) for non-AsP]. However, among patients who survived at 30 days, mortality did not significantly differ between the 3 groups (P = .1).

Conclusions and implications: In an unselected cohort of patients hospitalized in an acute geriatric unit, a third of AsP patients died within the first month after admission. However, among those surviving at 30 days, long-term mortality did not significantly differ from the rest of the cohort. These findings underline the importance of optimizing the early management of AsP.

Keywords: Aspiration pneumonia; aged; morbidity; mortality; prognosis.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inpatients
  • Male
  • Pneumonia* / complications
  • Pneumonia, Aspiration* / diagnosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Stroke* / complications