Pneumonia and heart disease seem to be on the total opposite ends of the disease spectrum but according to a latest study published in BMJ, community acquired pneumonia greatly increases the risk of heart failure across several age groups.
In the recent years, claims that pneumonia substantially impacts cardiovascular health due to respiratory system impairment, have gone unverified. This study was carried out to find clinical evidence for this claim.
Around 5,000 individuals aged 18 or above were recruited across several Canadian medical facilities from seven emergency departments and six hospitals. All of the participants suffered from community-acquired pneumonia.
The participants were compared with up to 5 individuals who did not suffer from prevalent heart failure or pneumonia, hence they served as controls. The main outcomes the scientists looked for were hospital admissions due to heart failure or fatalities.
The overall results showed that risk of heart failure was quite substantial if an individual suffered from community-acquired pneumonia, which was common in different medical scenarios across all age groups.
The scientists concluded that future treatment plans and strategies should focus on this association and long term care should start even when the person’s pneumonia is in its initial stages.
Community-acquired pneumonia is quite a common medical condition that affects all age groups and greatly reduces average life span. It is the subtype of pneumonia acquired from settings other than medical facilities.
It’s a heavy burden on the US economy and healthcare facilities as it sums up to $9bn (£7bn; €8bn) in direct annual healthcare costs and approximately 600,000 annual hospital admissions.
Despite significant improvements in healthcare techniques and treatment strategies, community-acquired pneumonia remains the seventh leading cause of death in the US. Although the condition is considered to be a short term illness, its impact on a person’s long-term health is quite negative.
Despite little evidence, there is ground for research, in the fact that patients with community-acquired pneumonia have a higher risk of heart failure.
The science behind this phenomenon is that acute illnesses, such as community-acquired pneumonia, result in breathing problems, increase the risk of tachycardia, decreases myocardial function and the efficiency of blood circulation.
Previous studies have shown individuals suffering from community-acquired pneumonia have twice the risk of subsequent pneumonia compared to individuals who do not suffer from pneumonia.
This study itself was quite remarkable as it showed that heart failure through pneumonia can occur in all age groups, even young adults. Previous studies only linked this phenomenon in elders.
Although the risk was less in the young adults compared to elders, young adults who were outpatients also had a significant risk of developing heart failure, which was similar to that of elder inpatients.
Pneumonia is contagious and this makes it difficult to treat and easy to spread from one person to another. The bacteria responsible for its transmission are Streptococcus Pneumoniae.
This bacterium affects the air passageways, particularly an individual’s respiratory tract, sinuses and nasal cavity.
However, in individuals who are at a higher risk due to various reasons, the bacteria can become pathogenic and spread to other areas and may become lethal. The bacteria is transmitted through coughing, sneezing or coming into direct contact with an infected person.
Symptoms of pneumococcal disease depend on the area of the body which gets infected. They can include shortness of breath, severe coughing, joint pains, fever, nausea, chest pain, and fatigue. Pneumococcal bacteria can even cause brain damage, hearing loss and death.
Due to the viral nature of these bacteria, there have been several vaccine based treatment options available to the masses which includes pneumococcal 13-valent conjugate vaccine, Prevenar 13®, made available in China recently which will protect against 13 strains of the bacterium.
Other Pneumococcal vaccines include Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine, also known as PPSV23 or pneumonia vaccine 23, which use dead microorganisms to prepare the immune cells against Streptococcus Pneumoniae.
Health-governing bodies such as CDC and NHS are preparing the population to be well equipped to fight against this common contagious bacterium. It is better to take the timely vaccine shots to prevent the occurrence of this lethal disease.