Disability and cognitive impairment are risk factors for pneumonia-related mortality in older adults

Public Health Rep. May-Jun 1993;108(3):314-22.


The role of functional and cognitive limitations in the risk of pneumonia-related mortality in older adults was examined. As part of a cohort study in 3 communities (East Boston, MA; New Haven, CT; and Iowa and Washington Counties, IA), 6,234 women and 4,035 men ages 65 or older completed baseline interviews between 1981 and 1983 and were followed for up to 6 years. Sex-specific Cox proportional-hazards regression models were used to examine the association of baseline physical and cognitive functioning with report of pneumonia (ICD9 480-486) as an underlying, immediate, or contributing cause of death. During followup, a total of 243 men and 160 women died with pneumonia. Adjusting for age, race, education, evidence of five chronic diseases, and smoking status, a significantly increased risk of pneumonia mortality (P < 0.05) was found for limitations in activities of daily living and cognitive impairment among both men and women. Inability to walk a half mile, climb stairs, or perform heavy housework was significantly associated with increased risk of pneumonia mortality for women but not for men in the same multivariate models. Men and women whose body-mass index was above the median had significantly lower risk of pneumonia mortality compared with those in the lowest quartile. Further elucidation of the sequence between physical and cognitive impairment and risk of pneumonia will be important in reducing pneumonia-associated morbidity and mortality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cognition Disorders / complications*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Frail Elderly*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Models, Statistical
  • Pneumonia / mortality*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors