Nav: Home

Bacterial pneumonia far more dangerous to the heart than viral pneumonia, study finds

November 11, 2018

Heart complications in patients diagnosed with bacterial pneumonia are more serious than in patients diagnosed with viral pneumonia, according to new research from the Intermountain Heart Institute at Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City.

In the study of nearly 5,000 patients, researchers found that patients diagnosed with bacterial pneumonia had a 60 percent greater risk of a heart attack, stroke, or death than patients who had been diagnosed with viral pneumonia.

"We've always known pneumonia was a risk factor for a major adverse cardiac event, like a heart attack, within the first 90 days of being diagnosed," said J. Brent Muhlestein, MD, a cardiovascular researcher with the Intermountain Heart Institute at Intermountain Medical Center. "What we didn't know was which type of pneumonia was more dangerous. The results of this study provided a clear answer, which will allow physicians to better monitor patients and focus on reducing their risk of a major adverse cardiac event."

Results of the study will be presented during the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions in Chicago on Sunday, Nov. 11, at 10:30 a.m. CT.

The Intermountain Heart Institute at Intermountain Medical Center is part of the Intermountain Healthcare system based in Salt Lake City.

The study evaluated 4,792 patients diagnosed with pneumonia who were hospitalized at one of Intermountain Healthcare's 23 hospitals between January 2007 and May 2014. Each patient was followed for 90 days and tracked for non-fatal heart attacks, stroke, heart failure, or death.

Nearly 80 percent of the patients were diagnosed with bacterial pneumonia, and 34 percent (1,270 patients) of them had a major cardiovascular event within 90 days. At the same time, 21 percent of the patients were diagnosed with viral pneumonia, and 26 percent (258 patients) had a major adverse event within the 90-day window.

"The likely underlying cause is that bacterial pneumonia causes greater inflammation of the arteries compared to viral pneumonia," said Dr. Muhlestein.

When arteries become inflamed, it destabilizes the layers of plaque that have built up over the years. The unstable plaque can then break loose from the artery wall and cause a blockage, which leads to a heart attack, stroke, or death.

"The practical result of our study is that caregivers should be aware of the greater cardiovascular risks associated with respiratory infections like pneumonia, and especially bacterial pneumonia," said Dr. Muhlestein. "If a patient has been diagnosed with bacterial pneumonia, treat it aggressively and watch them closely for any signs of a heart attack or stroke. If the patient is taking medications specific to a heart condition, like high blood pressure or cholesterol, they should continue taking those prescribed medications."

People with known plaque buildup should be especially mindful of things they can do to prevent respiratory infections. Dr. Muhlestein recommends getting a flu shot, a pneumovax, practicing proper hand hygiene year-round (and especially during cold and flu season), and quitting smoking immediately.
-end-
Members of the research team involved in the study include Glendon Scott Steiner; Stacey Knight, PhD; Russell R. Miller III, MD; Tami L. Bair, RN; Benjamin Horne, PhD; Bert Lopansri, MD; Jeffrey L Anderson, MD; John F. Carlquist, PhD; and J. Brent Muhlestein, MD.

Intermountain Medical Center

Related Heart Attack Articles:

Heart cells respond to heart attack and increase the chance of survival
The heart of humans and mice does not completely recover after a heart attack.
A simple method to improve heart-attack repair using stem cell-derived heart muscle cells
The heart cannot regenerate muscle after a heart attack, and this can lead to lethal heart failure.
Mount Sinai discovers placental stem cells that can regenerate heart after heart attack
Study identifies new stem cell type that can significantly improve cardiac function.
Fixing a broken heart: Exploring new ways to heal damage after a heart attack
The days immediately following a heart attack are critical for survivors' longevity and long-term healing of tissue.
Heart patch could limit muscle damage in heart attack aftermath
Guided by computer simulations, an international team of researchers has developed an adhesive patch that can provide support for damaged heart tissue, potentially reducing the stretching of heart muscle that's common after a heart attack.
How the heart sends an SOS signal to bone marrow cells after a heart attack
Exosomes are key to the SOS signal that the heart muscle sends out after a heart attack.
Heart attack patients taken directly to heart centers have better long-term survival
Heart attack patients taken directly to heart centers for lifesaving treatment have better long-term survival than those transferred from another hospital, reports a large observational study presented today at Acute Cardiovascular Care 2019, a European Society of Cardiology congress.
Among heart attack survivors, drug reduces chances of second heart attack or stroke
In a clinical trial involving 18,924 patients from 57 countries who had suffered a recent heart attack or threatened heart attack, researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and fellow scientists around the world have found that the cholesterol-lowering drug alirocumab reduced the chance of having additional heart problems or stroke.
Oxygen therapy for patients suffering from a heart attack does not prevent heart failure
Oxygen therapy does not prevent the development of heart failure.
I have had a heart attack. Do I need open heart surgery or a stent?
New advice on the choice between open heart surgery and inserting a stent via a catheter after a heart attack is launched today.
More Heart Attack News and Heart Attack Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Risk
Why do we revere risk-takers, even when their actions terrify us? Why are some better at taking risks than others? This hour, TED speakers explore the alluring, dangerous, and calculated sides of risk. Guests include professional rock climber Alex Honnold, economist Mariana Mazzucato, psychology researcher Kashfia Rahman, structural engineer and bridge designer Ian Firth, and risk intelligence expert Dylan Evans.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#541 Wayfinding
These days when we want to know where we are or how to get where we want to go, most of us will pull out a smart phone with a built-in GPS and map app. Some of us old timers might still use an old school paper map from time to time. But we didn't always used to lean so heavily on maps and technology, and in some remote places of the world some people still navigate and wayfind their way without the aid of these tools... and in some cases do better without them. This week, host Rachelle Saunders...
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dolly Parton's America: Neon Moss
Today on Radiolab, we're bringing you the fourth episode of Jad's special series, Dolly Parton's America. In this episode, Jad goes back up the mountain to visit Dolly's actual Tennessee mountain home, where she tells stories about her first trips out of the holler. Back on the mountaintop, standing under the rain by the Little Pigeon River, the trip triggers memories of Jad's first visit to his father's childhood home, and opens the gateway to dizzying stories of music and migration. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.