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Prednisolone benefits community-acquired pneumonia patients

Treatment of patients with community-acquired pneumonia has improved with antibiotics, but it still carries a high risk of morbidity and mortality. Pneumonia causes an excessive release of circulating inflammatory cytokines that can be harmful and cause pulmonary dysfunction. Corticosteroids have anti-inflammatory effects, but previous trials have yielded conflicting data about the benefits of their use in pneumonia.

Researchers identified the need for a large, randomised, placebo-controlled trial to assess the effect of prednisolone on time to stability of vital signs. This study compared 392 patients given prednisolone 50mg daily for seven days with 393 given a placebo. It found that those given prednisolone had a shorter time to showing stable vital signs. The only complication was a rise in hyperglycaemia, which was treated with insulin and did not cause long-term problems.

The researchers conclude that prednisolone benefits patients and saves hospitals money.

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