People who are hospitalized for sepsis or pneumonia appear to face an increased risk of developing heart disease up to five years after the infections, according to the findings of new research.
In a study published this month in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, researchers found that there was a sixfold increase in the incidence of heart attack, stroke or coronary heart disease after hospitalization for sepsis or a pneumonia infection.
Researchers followed more than 230,000 Swedish men born between 1952 and 1956, analyzing data from adolescence to 2010. Cardiovascular disease, including coronary heart disease and stroke, was identified using national registries from 1970 to 2010.
Study authors conclude that having sepsis or pneumonia infection in adulthood, leading to a hospital admission, was associated with a six times higher risk of cardiovascular disease the year following their initial infection.
Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs by either bacteria or virus, that can cause mild to severe illness. While most people will recover with no problems, many people will experience serious symptoms. About 3 million cases are reported in the U.S. each year; roughly 60,000 people will die as a result of the infection.
Sepsis is an infection which causes serious organ failure or damage. It can be caused by any type of infection, pneumonia, urinary tract, skin or stomach. Patients are more likely to contract infections in the intensive care unit (ICU) of a hospital which will cause sepsis, indicates the findings of a study published in 2016.
Among the patients in the new study, the cardiovascular disease risk dropped during the second and third years, but was still more than double the risk. By the fourth and fifth year, the risk was still almost twice as high as people who hadn’t been hospitalized for either infection.
The risk remained raised for at least five years after the infection. Researchers say this suggests a time where patients are vulnerable and should be aware of the increased risk.
The majority of people who contract sepsis have a health condition that put them at higher risk of getting the infection. However, another study linked sepsis to routine surgery hospitalizations. Patients are three times more likely to develop sepsis within three months after being hospitalized.
Recently the World Health Organization declared sepsis a “global priority,” since the infection causes millions of deaths worldwide each year. It is often difficult to predict and to diagnosis.
While most patients will recover from sepsis and pneumonia, their risk of cardiovascular disease may be heightened due to increased inflammation following the infections. Inflammation is a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease, including coronary heart disease and stroke.