Corticosteroids in Community-Acquired Pneumonia: A Review of Current Literature

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Journal of Pharmacy Technology


Objective: To review the evidence and recommendations for the use of adjunctive corticosteroid therapy in community-acquired pneumonia (CAP). Data Sources: A literature search was conducted using PubMed (1993 to November 2020) using the search terms corticosteroids AND community-acquired pneumonia. Study Selection and Data Extraction: Pertinent randomized controlled trials, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses assessing the efficacy and safety of adjunctive corticosteroids in patients with pneumonia were evaluated for inclusion. Data Synthesis: Studies suggest that corticosteroids reduce time to clinical stability and length of hospital stay, but data regarding other important clinical outcomes, such as mortality, are limited. The greatest margin of benefit appears to be in patients with severe CAP. Evidence consistently demonstrates hyperglycemia as the most common adverse effect of corticosteroid therapy in CAP. Safety concerns regarding the potential impact of corticosteroids on the rate of CAP-related rehospitalizations require further investigation. Relevance to Patient Care and Clinical Practice: This review summarizes literature evaluating the efficacy and safety of adjunctive corticosteroids in patients with CAP. It also includes a discussion on current guideline recommendations, patient selection, corticosteroid regimens, adverse effect considerations, limitations, and future directions in this area of research. Conclusions: Studies reviewed suggest that corticosteroids are relatively beneficial and safe in patients with CAP, with the greatest benefit in severe CAP. Currently, the routine use of corticosteroids is not recommended by clinical practice guidelines with the exception of CAP and refractory septic shock. Further research is needed to better define the ideal role of corticosteroids in CAP.

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