Ontario: A person's chance of having a heart attack or stroke increases significantly if he or she has been hospitalised for pneumonia, researchers warn.
"The conclusion from our study is that someone hospitalised for pneumonia should be considered at greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease," said lead author Vicente Corrales-Medina, an infectious diseases physician and assistant professor with the University of Ottawa.
This is especially important for the elderly and those with other risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as diabetes, smoking and high cholesterol.
"Once pneumonia has occurred, physicians should develop a care plan understanding that these patients are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease following their recovery from this infection," added Corrales-Medina.
To reach this conclusion, researchers used the records of 3,813 people from two community health studies, both based in the United States.
The studies analysed the health data of 1,271 pneumonia patients against 2,542 control patients (matched by age) over a period of 10 years.
Results showed that these pneumonia patients had a raised level of risk for cardiovascular disease over the entire 10 years, with the highest risk experienced in the first year.
For example, 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.
In the 10th year, they were a little less than twice as likely to develop cardiovascular disease.
The results strongly indicate that hospitalisation for pneumonia should be considered its own risk factor for future cardiovascular disease, the authors concluded.
The paper appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).