(HealthDay News) — Elderly people who develop infections while in an intensive care unit (ICU) are at increased risk of dying within five years after their hospital stay, according to a study published in the Jan. 1 issue of the American Journal of Infection Control.

Researchers analyzed data from 17,537 Medicare patients admitted to ICUs in 2002 and found that those who developed an infection while in the ICU were 35 percent more likely to die within five years after hospital discharge.

Overall, 57 percent of the patients died within five years. However, the death rate was 75 percent for those who developed a central line-associated bloodstream infection. And, the death rate was 77 percent for those who developed ventilator-associated pneumonia while in the ICU, according to the researchers.

Preventing central line-associated bloodstream infections led to an average of 15.55 life-years gained for patients. Preventing ventilator-associated pneumonia resulted in an average of 10.84 life-years gained. The researchers also found that preventing these infections reduced the cost of care by between $163,000 and $174,000 per patient.

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