Neil Fam, BSc, MSc
Pneumonia is a common and serious condition that claims over 6,000 lives in Canada annually. The elderly are particularly at risk, with individuals over 65 accounting for 50% of all pneumonia cases and 90% of deaths due to lower respiratory tract infection.1 Indeed, elderly patients with pneumonia have a mortality rate 3-5 times that of young adults. A combination of factors contribute to the increased incidence of pneumonia in the elderly, including the presence of comorbid illness and the effects of aging on the lungs and immune system (see Age-related Changes to the Respiratory System Will Not Affect Healthy Elderly). Recent advances in our understanding of pneumonia have led to a re-evaluation of traditional approaches to the disease. This review outlines disease presentation, common pathogens and current diagnostic, treatment and preventive options in the care of elderly patients with pneumonia.