Bloodstream infections in the elderly: what is the real goal?

Yaara Leibovici-Weissman*, Noam Tau, Dafna Yahav

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Bloodstream infections (BSI) represent a serious bacterial infection with substantial morbidity and mortality. Population-based studies demonstrate an increased incidence, especially among elderly patients. Controversy exists regarding whether presentation of BSI are different in older patients compared to younger patients; our narrative review of the literature suggests that BSI in elderly patients would probably include one or more of the traditional symptoms/signs of fever, severe sepsis or septic shock, acute kidney injury, and/or leukocytosis. Sources of BSI in older adults are most commonly the urinary tract (more so than in younger adults) and the respiratory tract. Gram-negative bacteria are the most common isolates in the old (~ 40–60% of BSI); isolates from the elderly patient population show higher antibiotic resistance rates, with long-term care facilities serving as reservoirs for multidrug-resistant bacteria. BSI entail significantly higher rates of mortality in older age, both short and long term. Some of the risk factors for mortality are modifiable, such as the appropriateness of empirical antibiotic therapy and nosocomial acquisition of infection. Health-related quality of life issues regarding the elderly patient with BSI are not well addressed in the literature. Utilization of comprehensive geriatric assessment and comprehensive geriatric discharge planning need to be investigated further in this setting and might serve as key for improved results in this population. In this review, we address all these aspects of BSI in old patients with emphasis on future goals for management and research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1101-1112
Number of pages12
JournalAging clinical and experimental research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Bacteremia
  • Bloodstream infection
  • Clinical presentation
  • Mortality


Dive into the research topics of 'Bloodstream infections in the elderly: what is the real goal?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this