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Pneumonia 'linked to increased stroke risk'

Pneumonia 'linked to increased stroke risk'
21st January 2015

People who develop pneumonia that is severe enough to lead to hospitalisation face a higher risk of experiencing a stroke.

Researchers examined data from two studies, one of which followed nearly 6,000 adults aged 65 and older, while the other tracked nearly 16,000 adults aged 45 to 64. 

They found that those hospitalised due to pneumonia had a higher chance of having a stroke, while the chances of having a heart attack and experiencing heart failure were also higher.

In the 65-plus group, the highest risk was in the first year after the infection. During the first 30 days, it was four times greater than that of people of similar ages who had not been hospitalised with pneumonia. The risk remained high for a decade.

The risk was also increased among the younger cohort, although it was not as high as among the older group and appeared to level off after two years.

Lead author Dr Vicente Corrales-Medina of the Ottawa Hospital said the study confirms observations made by doctors over the years. 

He told the Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail that no research has previously been conducted to find out whether the link between pneumonia and these conditions is a coincidence or a genuine connection.

There is no way to tell whether people with pneumonia that isn't severe enough to require hospitalisation are also at increased risk of having a cardiovascular event, he added.

Experts recommend that patients and doctors do everything in their power to reduce the risk of contracting pneumonia, such as vaccination.

Steps can also be taken to control the other factors that lead to cardiovascular disease, such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

It is currently unknown why pneumonia is linked to a higher risk of developing a cardiovascular condition, although other infections are thought to have a similar effect.

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