CHICAGO — Pneumonia caused by bacterial infections poses a much greater threat to the heart than pneumonia caused by viral infections, a new study suggests.
Patients in the study who were diagnosed with bacterial pneumonia had a higher risk of heart attack, stroke or death, compared with patients diagnosed with viral pneumonia, the researchers found.
The findings were presented here today (Nov. 11) at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions annual meeting. The study has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal. [27 Devastating Infectious Diseases]
Both bacteria and viruses can cause pneumonia, an infection characterized by inflammation in the air sacs of the lungs.
In the study, the researchers looked at data from 2007 to 2014 on around 4,800 patients at a Utah hospital who had been diagnosed with pneumonia and hospitalized. Around 80 percent of the patients had been diagnosed with bacterial pneumonia. The researchers then looked at data on those patients for the 90 days following their diagnosis, noting which patients experienced heart attack, stroke, heart failure or death. (The researchers tracked the patients for 90 days because previous research has shown that the risk of these complications is increased for 90 days following a pneumonia diagnosis.)
The researchers found that 34 percent of the patients with bacterial pneumonia had a major heart complication within that 90-day window, compared with 26 percent of the patients diagnosed with viral pneumonia.