Pneumonia Immunization Reduces Heart Attack Risks


According to a recent research conducted in Canada, immunization against pneumonia considerably reduces the hazards of developing a cardiac attack two years later. Researchers have asserted that the risk of having a heart attack is lowered at least by 50 per cent.

The research was basically a comparative study which examined 999 people admitted to different hospitals across Canada with heart attacks and 3,996 other patients who were admitted for reasons other than heart disorders. It is interesting to note that during the course of the study researchers found no dissimilarity between patients who had been immunized against pneumonia and those who did not have pneumococcal vaccine in the preceding year. However, they found that people who had been vaccinated against pneumonia two years back had 50 per cent less chances of suffering from a heart attack.

A report published by researchers at the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec in the current edition of the Canadian Medical Association Journal said that if the findings are authenticated, the association needs to focus on exploring the methods supposedly used in arriving at such a conclusion and this may proffer an altogether different motivation to endorse immunization against pneumonia or pneumococcal vaccination.

According to Dr Mohammad Madjid, a senior research scientist at the Texas Heart Institute who recorded supplementary observations, there are numerous hypothesis and data that relate heart attacks to pneumonia. Dr Madjid observed that several years ago, nearly at the beginning of the 20th century, scientists were of the view that heart attacks originated from infections. Over the years, this belief of the scientists have been ignored as later researches related heart attacks to other risk factors like high cholesterol levels in the blood vessels, high blood pressure, overweight as well as diabetes.

Dr Madjid went on to add that it has been found that the number of people suffering heart attacks go up drastically during every influenza epidemic. In addition, records have demonstrated that more people die each year from heart attacks than pneumonia, the scientist added. It is not difficult to find why pneumonia is associated with heart attacks. One main reason for this is that pneumonia enhances the swelling of the coronary arteries blocking the steady flow of blood in the circulatory system. According to Dr Madjid, when a person is affected by pneumonia, inflammation in his coronary arteries goes up three times over.

Dr David Fisman, a medical epidemiologist at the Ontario Public Health Laboratories, said that the findings of the Canadian researchers are much similar to a study conducted two years ago. The study conducted between 1999 and 2003 examined 63,000 people admitted to different hospitals during that time. This study found that 12 per cent of the patients who had taken pneumococcal vaccination have 40 to 70 per cent less chances of succumbing to heart attacks. On the other hand, 23 per cent of the patients who had not been immunized against pneumonia were susceptible to heart attacks. Dr Fisman added that the researchers also found lower incidences of heart attack, kidney failure and other related problems among patients who had been vaccinated against pneumonia.

In fact, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have already recommended pneumococcal vaccination for everyone above the age of 65 years and also for those suffering from chronic disorders, including heart ailments. According to Dr Madjid, though the US government's aim is to have 90 per cent of the people above the age of 65 years inoculated with pneumococcal vaccine, the actual rate of immunization across the country was much lower.

It is interesting when Dr Fisman says that the pneumococcal vaccine is actually contentious as it is really hard to prove that once immunized, a person will not have to face the hazard of pneumonia. Nonetheless, there have been several studies that hint that the vaccine is not only effective in lowering the risk of contacting pneumonia, but also reduces the intensity of the disease when pneumonia actually occurs. It has been proved that people who have taken the pneumococcal vaccine suffer from less rigorous pneumonia. Dr Fisman asserted that if people who were immunized against pneumonia did get affected from the disease, they were still unlikely to contact bacteremia - harmful bacteria found in the blood. According to Dr Fisman, heart ailments may be owing to the inflammation in the coronary arteries caused by pneumonia, while the contagion is a test that is related to physiology and this gives rise to an inflammatory reaction.

On the other hand, Dr Madjid suggests that irrespective of the system or method, people need to consult with their physicians regarding the need for the vaccination for them. He asserts that the vaccination should be taken only after discussing the issue with qualified doctors.

Meanwhile, Dr Fisman says that the recent findings by the Canadian researchers are very reliable and confirms the findings of some earlier studies on the issue. All these studies make it amply clear that people who have taken the pneumococcal vaccine have less risk of dying owing to either pneumonia or heart ailments. Before we wrap up, it is pertinent to state that the pneumococcal vaccine is helpful in saving lives. It must be said that it is definitely safer to vaccinate people rather than pulling them back when they really have a heart attack.