Filed Under:  U.S. & World

Can pneumonia increase your chance of heart disease?

Contributed by on January 20, 2015 at 10:38 pm

boy in hospital - pneumonia

OTTOWA, Canada – A new study has found that people who have been hospitalized with pneumonia may be at higher risk of developing heart disease.


Although pneumonia primarily affects the lungs, researchers at the University of Ottawa are now saying there may be a link between the disease and the possibility that a patient may develop heart problems later on.


The new study looked at patients, age 45 to over 65, for 10 years. What they found may change how doctors look at pneumonia, and how they treat patients who have been hospitalized with the disease.


Pneumonia is caused when bacteria invade the lungs, which leads to inflammation and therefore severe coughing. The typical treatment is antibiotics, but while antibiotics kill the bacteria in the lungs, doctors rely on the body’s own immune system to clean up the lungs after the bacteria have been eliminated.


None of that, however, explains the link between pneumonia and heart disease. In fact, doctors aren’t sure what connects the two.


What they do know is that people who have been hospitalized with pneumonia may have a significantly higher risk of developing heart problems, so much so that pneumonia may rival smoking or diabetes as a leading risk factor for heart disease.


Although more research needs to done to confirm the link and determine the cause, it’s clear that pneumonia may have more serious complications than previously thought.


With that in mind, researchers are saying that not only should everything be done to prevent pneumonia, including vaccinations and immune maintenance, but doctors should monitor patients for months if not years afterwards.