Adjuvant Corticosteroid Treatment in Adults With Influenza A (H7N9) Viral Pneumonia*

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Objective:To determine the impact of adjuvant corticosteroids administered to patients hospitalized with influenza A (H7N9) viral pneumonia.Design:The effects of adjuvant corticosteroids on mortality were assessed using multivariate Cox regression and a propensity score-matched case-control study. Nosocomial infections and viral shedding were also compared.Setting:Hospitals with influenza A (H7N9) viral pneumonia patient admission in 84 cities and 16 provinces of Mainland China.Patients:Adolescent and Adult patients aged >14 yr with severe laboratory-confirmed influenza A (H7N9) virus infections were screened from April 2013 to March 2015.Interventions:None.Measurements and Main Results:The study population comprised 288 cases who were hospitalized with influenza A (H7N9) viral pneumonia. The median age of the study population was 58 years, 69.8% of the cohort comprised male patients, and 51.4% had at least one type of underlying diseases. The in-hospital mortality was 31.9%. Two hundred and four patients (70.8%) received adjuvant corticosteroids; among them, 193 had hypoxemia and lung infiltrates, 11 had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and 11 had pneumonia only. Corticosteroids were initiated within 7 days (interquartile range, 5.0–9.4 d) of the onset of illness and the maximum dose administered was equivalent to 80-mg methylprednisolone (interquartile range, 40–120 mg). The patients were treated with corticosteroids for a median duration of 7 days (interquartile range, 4.0–11.3 d). Cox regression analysis showed that compared with the patients who did not receive corticosteroid, those who received corticosteroid had a significantly higher 60-day mortality (adjusted hazards ratio, 1.98; 95% CI, 1.03–3.79; p = 0.04). Subgroup analysis showed that high-dose corticosteroid therapy (> 150 mg/d methylprednisolone or equivalent) significantly increased both 30-day and 60-day mortality, whereas no significant impact was observed for low-to-moderate doses of corticosteroids (25–150 mg/d methylprednisolone or equivalent). The propensity score–matched case-control analysis showed that the median viral shedding time was much longer in the group that received high-dose corticosteroids (15 d), compared with patients who did not receive corticosteroids (13 d; p = 0.039).Conclusions:High-dose corticosteroids were associated with increased mortality and longer viral shedding in patients with influenza A (H7N9) viral pneumonia.

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