Even though pneumonia is a lung infection, it may also put you at risk of developing serious heart problems. And the raised heart risks may last for years after recovering.
Being in the hospital with severe pneumonia raises the chance for heart attack, stroke and deadly heart disease down the line, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The problem may affect millions, as pneumonia sends about 1 million people in the U.S. to the hospital each year.
The chance of heart problems was highest in the first year after having pneumonia. But heart risk remained raised by about 50% for the next 10 years, the study found.
Why? Infections such as pneumonia can boost inflammation in the body, which is a known cause of cardiovascular disease.
Learn Your RiskPneumonia can affect anyone, but some groups are more susceptible than others. People ages 65 or older are at risk of getting pneumonia. Other risk factors include having a weakened immune system, having a chronic lung disease or smoking cigarettes.
Vaccines Offer SafetyThe pneumonia shot is the best way to protect against one kind of pneumonia. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you should get the shot if you:
Talk with your doctor to find out if you should have the pneumonia shot. Learn more about how to prevent pneumonia from the CDC.
Flu TieThe warning signs of pneumonia are like that of the flu: headache, muscle aches and fever. Sometimes people have a bad cough and trouble breathing.
And If you do get the flu, you’re then at risk for pneumonia. So, be sure to get the flu shot each fall. The CDC urges all adults have a yearly flu shot. Ask your doctor about getting a yearly flu shot.
Protect Your HeartOther than trying to prevent pneumonia, there are small steps you can make to protect your heart in the long run. The American Heart Association suggests to:
Sources: Prevent Pneumonia, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Pneumonia, Association Between Hospitalization for Pneumonia and Subsequent Risk of Cardiovascular Disease, Journal of the American Medical Association; Lifestyle Changes for Heart Failure, American Heart Association.
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