World Pneumonia Day is observed on 12 November. It is completely dedicated to spreading awareness among people to understand the need to stand together and take action in the fight against pneumonia.

Pneumonia is a common respiratory infection that affects about 450 million people a year worldwide.

Did you know that pneumonia causes heart attacks? Yes it is true.

Heart failure and other cardiovascular problems affect 30% of patients with community-acquired pneumonia who are hospitalized, however, the danger is not always imminent.

According to research, the risk of cardiac problems increases one month after a diagnosis of pneumonia and may last longer.

In this blog, we will shed light on how pneumonia can trigger a heart attack and how we can prevent it.

What is pneumonia?

Pneumonia is a contagious infection with mild to severe symptoms of cold and flu. This infection is caused by bacteria, fungi or viruses affecting one or both of your lungs. It is the biggest cause of respiratory disorders like asthma, cystic fibrosis, emphysema, lung cancer, mesothelioma, pulmonary hypertension and tuberculosis.

Symptoms such as fever, chills, general malaise, excessive sweating, cough and rapid breathing (tachypnea) are experienced by a person with pneumonia.

How are pneumonia and heart attacks related?

Pneumonia is an infection that causes inflammation throughout the body. This can lead to other complications, such as an increased risk that pieces of plaque can break free from your vessel walls and lead to a heart attack or stroke.

Inflammation can prevent many of your body’s systems, especially the heart, from working normally. As a result, heart failure is one of the most common side effects of pneumonia.

Basically, it increases the stress on the heart and can lead to cardiac events like heart failure, heart attack or arrhythmias.

Does this risk only exist for heart patients?

About 1.4% of patients receiving outpatient care for pneumonia with no record of previous heart failure also experience worsening heart failure as a result of pneumonia.

Extensive inflammation can cause complications even in the absence of coronary artery disease or plaque formation.

There is some evidence that pneumonia can specifically help plaque break down artery walls and form a clot that can lead to a heart attack, but the body’s inflammatory response during illness can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The main signs and symptoms that indicate a heart attack are associated with severe pneumonia:

  • Patients requiring extended ICU stay
  • Patients in whom multiple lung lobes are affected or at least 30% of the lungs are affected
  • Patients with compromised hemodynamics (eg decreased blood pressure levels)
  • Individuals with elevated levels of inflammatory markers (eg ESR, CRP)
  • People on ventilator support

How to prevent pneumonia?

Get a flu shot:

Getting vaccinated against the flu every year is one of the best ways to prevent it because it is a common cause of pneumonia.

Get vaccinated if your risk level is high:

To find out if you need the pneumococcal vaccine, consult your doctor. All children under 5 years of age, adults 65 years of age and older, and anyone else at high risk of developing pneumococcal pneumonia due to other medical problems should get this vaccine.

Ask your doctor about additional vaccinations for pertussis, chicken pox, and measles that can help prevent illnesses that can lead to pneumonia.

Wash your hands regularly:

Frequent hand washing can help stop the spread of germs and infections, especially after blowing your nose, going to the bathroom, and before and after eating or preparing food.

Quit smoking:

Smoking weakens your immune system and smoking impairs your lungs’ ability to fight infections, making you more likely to develop pneumonia. It is best to quit smoking early before it becomes an addiction.

Follow a healthy diet:

Prevention of these diseases and other illnesses can be helped by healthy eating, regular exercise and adequate rest. Consult your doctor if you are concerned about your health to learn about healthy lifestyle changes you can follow.

Other preventive measures:

  • Careful assessment of cardiovascular risk factors such as associated diabetes and hypertension.
  • Prophylactic use of blood thinners or anticoagulation
  • Regular checks for heart attacks with blood tests such as troponin T, ECG And Echocardiogram.

Last thought

Your lungs and heart work together with each breath you take. Chronic illnesses and infections that affect one organ can also affect the function of another.

Pneumonia increases your chances of developing heart disease or worsening your existing heart condition. Likewise, heart disease increases your chances of developing pneumonia.

Discuss your general health with your doctor, including ways to prevent acute infections such as pneumonia and chronic heart disease.

Going for healthy dietary options and lifestyle aspects is one thing, but the best approach includes preventive measures like timely health checkups and vaccinations.

Book a full body wellness exam today!

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