Steroids appear to benefit patients with pneumonia

by Bruce Sylvester: Corticosteroid therapy appears to benefit patients with pneumonia, researchers reported online on August 10, 2015 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

“Our study should lead to an important change in treatment for pneumonia,” said investigator, Reed Siemieniuk, MD,  a physician and a graduate student at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. “Corticosteroids are inexpensive and readily available around the world.  Millions of patients will benefit from this new evidence.”

The investigators conducted their meta-analysis using data from 12 randomized trials involving 1,975 subjects, mostly in their 60s, and approximately 60% of whom were men.

Two reviewers independently extracted study data from the studies and assessed it for  risk of bias.

The authors reported that, for hospitalized adults with pneumonia, systemic corticosteroid therapy appeared to  reduce mortality by approximately 3%, need for mechanical ventilation by approximately 5%, and hospital stay by approximately 1 day.

“Seldom do we see a major advance in treatment of a condition as common as community-acquired pneumonia,” said Dr. Gordon Guyatt, senior investigator and a professor of clinical epidemiology and biostatistics at McMaster.

“Corticosteroids over short periods are safe, and we now know that they achieve important benefits in a serious and common medical illness.”