Between 5 and 10 million people get pneumonia in the United States each year, and more than 1 million people are hospitalized due to the condition. As a result, pneumonia is the fourth most frequent cause of hospitalizations.
Although the majority of pneumonias respond well to treatment, the infection kills 40,000 - 70,000 people each year.
Men with community-acquired pneumonia tend to fare worse than women. Men are 30% more likely than women to die from the condition, even if the severity of the illness is the same. Researchers say there may be some genetic reason for the disparity.
Outlook for High-Risk Individuals
Hospitalized Patients. The death rate for community-acquired pneumonia can range from less than 5% in mildly ill outpatients to 10 - 30% in patients who need to be admitted to a hospital. If pneumonia develops in patients already hospitalized for other conditions, or those in a nursing home, death rates can be much higher. This is especially true for anyone who is on a ventilator.
Older Adults. Community-acquired pneumonia is responsible for 350,000 - 620,000 hospitalizations in the elderly every year. Older adults have lower survival rates than younger people. Even when older individuals recover from CAP, they have higher-than-normal death rates over the next several years. Elderly people who live in nursing homes or who are already sick are at particular risk.
Very Young Children. Small children who develop pneumonia and survive are at risk for developing lung problems in adulthood, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Research suggests that men with a history of pneumonia and other respiratory illnesses in childhood are more than twice as likely to die of COPD as those without a history of childhood respiratory disease.
Review Date: 04/13/2010
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.