Bacteria and Viruses Cause Pneumonia but One Affects Heart More

Bacteria and Viruses Cause Pneumonia but One Affects Heart More


A new study shows that Pneumonia, which is caused due to bacterial infections, poses a far greater threat to the heart than that caused out of viral infections. Patients who took part in the study got diagnosed with bacterial pneumonia. They seemed to have a much higher risk of heart attack, suffer from stroke or of death, compared to those patients, who got diagnosed with viral pneumonia. The findings got presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions annual meeting. Viruses and bacteria both have the potential to cause pneumonia. This is an infection, which is characterized by inflammation in the air sacs of the lungs.

In the course of the study, the researchers went through the data from the years 2007 to 2014 on close to 4800 patients at a hospital in Utah, who was diagnosed with pneumonia and hence hospitalized. The researchers could find that 34 percent of the patients suffering from bacterial pneumonia, had a major heart complication within the period of 90 days, compared to the 26 percent of patients, who got diagnosed with viral pneumonia. The question is that why bacterial version tends to pose a much greater threat to the heart. This is most probably due to the fact that bacterial pneumonia leads to a much greater amount of inflammation in the arteries, which is indeed a big risk factor for heart disease than what viral pneumonia does. Dr Joseph Brent Muhlestein, who is a cardiologist at Intermountain Heart Institute in Utah, said that bacteria and viruses infect the body in different manners. Where on one hand, the viruses make their entry into cells and cause damage. On the other hand, bacteria live outside the cells and release toxic substances into the bloodstream. The latter causes more inflammation in the blood, thus causing damage to the linings of the arteries.

Dr Muhlestein recommended that doctors should prescribe antibiotics to all those patients, who are old and suffer from heart problems lying underneath. They should do so even if they feel that the infection is viral. This is because these kinds of individuals tend to have a weaker immune system and thus can develop a bacterial infection quite easily, which can progress to pneumonia.

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