Heart and lung problems are often connected -- a point I have tried to emphasize many times in these articles. Recently, a study was performed on the associated risk of pneumonia and heart failure. Patients with heart failure have a rate of pneumonia that is about three times greater than expected. Important as well is the fact that once these patients get pneumonia they are about four times more likely to die. This increased incidence and death risk is what drove this study.

Something called the “ejection fraction” (EF) is one common measure of heart function, and tells physicians how effective the heart is squeezing the blood to the body. Patients may have heart failure with a reduced EF or a preserved EF. It is the patients with preserved EF that are most seriously affected. The reason for this is not well understood.

Why was this study done and why is it important? Not only did this study point out the devastating consequences of heart failure with an associated pneumonia, but it also made clear that heart failure patients should be vaccinated against any and all potential causes of pneumonia. Currently, we have all been concerned about vaccination for COVID 19 but you should not forget that there is a pneumonia vaccine and a yearly flu vaccine that are important as well.

If you have had heart failure, be sure to protect yourself as much as you can against the serious risk of pneumonia. The pneumonia vaccine can be given at any time of the year.