Background Acupuncture treatment is common among stroke patients, but there is limited information available on whether acupuncture effectively prevents post-stroke pneumonia. The aim of this study was to analyze the differential risk of pneumonia after stroke between patients who did and did not receive acupuncture after discharge. Methods We used the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database to conduct a retrospective cohort study using propensity score matched-pairs of new stroke patients in 2000–2004 who did and did not receive acupuncture post-stroke. Both cohorts were followed up until the end of 2009 for new-onset pneumonia. After correcting for immortal time bias, the incidence and adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) of pneumonia associated with acupuncture use were calculated using multivariate Cox proportional hazard models. Results Overall, 12557 stroke patients with 12557 paired controls were included in the analysis; pneumonia was diagnosed in 6796 (27.1%). Stroke patients receiving acupuncture had a lower incidence of pneumonia than those without acupuncture (53.4 vs. 58.9 per 1000 person-years), with an adjusted HR of 0.86 (95% CI 0.82–0.90). The association between pneumonia risk and acupuncture use was significant in men (HR 0.92, 95% CI 0.86–0.98) and women (HR 0.79, 95% 0.70–0.82) and was also observed in every age group from 20–79 years. Conclusion Stroke patients receiving acupuncture had a lower risk of pneumonia than those who did not. Further randomized control studies are needed to validate the protective effect of acupuncture on the risk of pneumonia among stroke patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0196094
JournalPLoS One
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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