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

  • Yaara Leibovici-WeissmanEmail author
  • Noam Tau
  • Dafna Yahav


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.


Bacteremia Bloodstream infection Mortality Clinical presentation 




Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare none.

Statement of human and animal rights

This review of literature did not involve any research on humans or animals.

Informed consent

Informed consent was not necessary.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sackler School of MedicineTel Aviv UniversityTel AvivIsrael
  2. 2.Department of Acute Geriatrics, Rabin Medical CenterBeilinson HospitalPetah TikvaIsrael
  3. 3.Department of Diagnostic ImagingChaim Sheba Medical CenterRamat GanIsrael
  4. 4.Infectious Diseases Unit, Rabin Medical CenterBeilinson HospitalPetah TikvaIsrael

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