Corticosteroids May Shorten Pneumonia Hospital Stay

Dexamethasone therapy may reduce hospital stay in patients with community-acquired pneumonia

WEDNESDAY, June 1 (HealthDay News) -- Non-immunocompromised patients with community-acquired pneumonia treated with intravenous dexamethasone in addition to antibiotic therapy may have a shorter hospital stay, according to a study published online June 1 in The Lancet.

Sabine C.A. Meijvis, M.D., from St. Antonius Hospital in Nieuwegein, Netherlands, and colleagues investigated the benefits of adding corticosteroids to antibiotic therapy for early resolution of pneumonia in 304 patients, aged 18 years and older, with confirmed community-acquired pneumonia between 2007 and 2010. Patients who were immunocompromised, required immediate transfer to an intensive care unit, or who were already receiving corticosteroids or immunosuppressive drugs were not included in the analysis. Participants were randomly assigned to receive 5 mg intravenous dexamethasone once a day (151 patients) or placebo (153 patients) for four days from admission. Length of hospital stay was the primary outcome measured.

The investigators identified 143 patients with pneumonia of pneumonia severity index class 4 to 5 (52 percent of the dexamethasone group and 42 percent of the placebo group). The average hospital stay was 6.5 days in the dexamethasone group and 7.5 days in the placebo group (P = 0.048). The two groups had infrequent serious adverse events and in-hospital mortality with no difference in rates between the groups. However, significantly more patients in the dexamethasone group had hyperglycemia compared to the placebo group (44 versus 23 percent).

"Dexamethasone can reduce length of hospital stay when added to antibiotic treatment in non-immunocompromised patients with community-acquired pneumonia," the authors write.

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