Sudden Heart Attacks Strike Pneumonia Patients

May 17, 2011

Pneumonia patients at increased risk for heart attacks

If you go (or a loved one) goes to a hospital for symptoms of pneumonia, beware sudden heart attacks. A new study from the University of Chicago has found that heart attacks with no early warning sign or symptoms are affecting pneumonia patients more than previously thought.

Sudden heart attacks are almost as likely to strike pneumonia patients who are not in intensive care units as those who are, meaning the hospital may be failing to identify heart attack risk. It could also mean that those with symptoms of pneumonia are more at risk for heart problems than previously believed.
Also notable is that those with symptoms of pneumonia were more likely to have heart attacks if they weren’t on a ventilator or receiving other intervention.

The study will likely prompt more research, specifically into the correlation between symptoms of pneumonia and heart attacks. The American Heart Association, also involved with the study, will likely suggest new hospital guidelines for patients with symptoms of pneumonia.

In the meantime, not every hospital nor every doctor will likely have heard of the correlation between symptoms of pneumonia and sudden heart attacks (which often result in death). That means that family members will need to advocate for more care for sick family members.

Most of the heart attacks occurred within 72 hours of admission, and so were not likely correlated with strains of hospital pneumonia, such as the new CRKP, a hard to treat pneumonia superbug.

What do you do to advocate for sick family members?

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