When compared to those without COPD, elderly patients with the disease are almost six times more likely to develop pneumonia and eight times more likely to need hospital treatment, according to research available in the open-access journal Plos One.

Incidence rates of pneumonia were calculated for elders with and without COPD and for elders with COPD and coexistent congestive heart failure (CHF).

As a result, the excess direct medical cost in elders with COPD with inpatient pneumonia extends up to 24 months following the index hospitalization and represents $28,638 in 2010 dollars.

“COPD and pneumonia are high cost conditions individually and concomitantly, pneumonia and COPD increase health care cost synergistically in the elderly,” the authors concluded.

“Therapies aimed at preventing exacerbations in general and pneumonia in particular have the potential to reduce morbidity, improve quality of life and reduce costs for Medicare beneficiaries with COPD.”