Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

The prevalence of anemia and its association with 90-day mortality in hospitalized community-acquired pneumonia

Michael C Reade12, Lisa Weissfeld3, Derek C Angus2, John A Kellum2 and Eric B Milbrandt2*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Intensive Care Medicine, Austin Hospital & University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

2 The CRISMA (Clinical Research, Investigation, and Systems Modeling of Acute Illness) Laboratory, Department of Critical Care Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

3 Department of Biostatistics, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

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BMC Pulmonary Medicine 2010, 10:15  doi:10.1186/1471-2466-10-15

Published: 16 March 2010



The prevalence of anemia in the intensive care unit is well-described. Less is known, however, of the prevalence of anemia in hospitalized patients with lesser illness severity or without organ dysfunction. Community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) is one of the most frequent reasons for hospitalization in the United States (US), affecting both healthy patients and those with comorbid illness, and is typically not associated with acute blood loss. Our objective was to examine the development and progression of anemia and its association with 90d mortality in 1893 subjects with CAP presenting to the emergency departments of 28 US academic and community hospitals.


We utilized hemoglobin values obtained for clinical purposes, classifying subjects into categories consisting of no anemia (hemoglobin >13 g/dL), at least borderline (≤ 13 g/dL), at least mild (≤ 12 g/dL), at least moderate (≤ 10 g/dL), and severe (≤ 8 g/dL) anemia. We stratified our results by gender, comorbidity, ICU admission, and development of severe sepsis. We used multivariable logistic regression to determine factors independently associated with the development of moderate to severe anemia and to examine the relationship between anemia and 90d mortality.


A total of 8240 daily hemoglobin values were measured in 1893 subjects. Mean (SD) number of hemoglobin values per patient was 4.4 (4.0). One in three subjects (33.9%) had at least mild anemia at presentation, 3 in 5 (62.1%) were anemic at some point during their hospital stay, and 1 in 2 (54.5%) survivors were discharged from the hospital anemic. Anemia increased with illness severity and was more common in those with comorbid illnesses, female gender, and poor outcomes. Yet, even among men and in those with no comorbidity or only mild illness, anemia during hospitalization was common (~55% of subjects). When anemia was moderate to severe (≤ 10 g/dL), its development was independently associated with increased 90d mortality, even among hospital survivors.


Anemia was common in hospitalized CAP and independently associated with 90d mortality when hemoglobin values were 10 g/dL or less. Whether prevention or treatment of CAP-associated anemia would improve clinical outcomes remains to be seen.