Miami, United States – People who are hospitalized for pneumonia face a higher risk of heart attack or stroke in the following weeks and months, Canadian researchers reported on Tuesday.
The study in the Journal of the American Medical Association is the first to focus on pneumonia patients with no previous history of cardiovascular disease.
Researchers are still trying to figure out why the body may be more vulnerable after a bout of pneumonia, but said in the meantime, hospitalization for pneumonia should be considered its own risk factor for future cardiovascular disease.
The study was based on records of more than 3,800 people enrolled in US community health studies.
One group was aged 45-64, the other was over 65.
By comparing more than 1,200 pneumonia patients to some 2,500 control patients of the same age over a period of 10 years, they found the heart risks were highest in the first weeks and months after a bout pneumonia.
“In the group aged 65 and older, a pneumonia patient was four times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease in the first 30 days following the infection,” said the study.
“In the tenth year, they were a little less than twice as likely to develop cardiovascular disease.”
In the younger group, the risk of cardiovascular disease was 2.4 times higher in the first 90 days after hospitalization for pneumonia, but the risk was no longer significant after a period of two years.
The study “provides yet another reason to do everything we can to prevent pneumonia from occurring in the community, through vaccination and basic hand hygiene, for example,” said lead author Vicente Corrales-Medina, an infectious diseases physician and researcher at The Ottawa Hospital.
“Second, once pneumonia has occurred, physicians should develop a care plan understanding that these patients are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease in the weeks, months and years following their recovery from this infection.”
A total of 1.2 million people are hospitalized for pneumonia in the United States each year.
– AFP News