—Just because flu and pneumonia are among are among our most common diseases that can be averted or disarmed by widely available vaccinations, doesn’t mean they are no longer deadly. Both are caused by either viruses or bacteria— often a combination of both. Meanwhile, heart attacks continue to by the number one single cause of death. —

There is the infectious influenza virus behind the flu and bacteria, streptococcus pneumoniae bacterium, also named pneumococcus, that spreads pneumonia. Both influenza and pneumonia affect the lungs and respiratory system. The flu is a contagious viral infection that makes its presence felt in the nose and throat and, ultimately, in the lungs. Pneumonia, a bacterial infection that can become severe and life-threatening, also impacts the lungs, making breathing difficult, often with an accompanying fever and a severe cough.

People die from influenza, but they are more likely to die from pneumonia.  The most recent data released by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) for 2017 shows tens of thousands of deaths that year in the United states, ranging from just 66 in Alaska to 6,340 in California. Flu and pneumonia are often lumped together due to similar symptoms, often striking at epidemic levels at the same times of the year. Obviously, the number of people diagnosed with either the flu or pneumonia are in the hundreds of thousands in a given year. Cases can be mild or severe and often the vaccinations for each keep these illnesses at bay or lessen their intensity,

How much does it cost us to combat pneumonia and influenza?

Community-acquired or contagious pneumonia, which can be caused by bacteria, virus or fungi, is statistically high. Those at higher risk include the elderly and young children. The combined cost for treatment, including hospitalization, has surpassed $20 billion— approximately double the cost in 2010. About 81 percent of that price tag has been for the care and treatment of pneumonia patients.

How many are hospitalized for pneumonia and flu?

During the 2017-18 flu season there were about 960,000 hospitalizations for influenza cases alone, again according to the CDC. Back in 2010 1.13 million people were hospitalized with pneumonia and 7,000 individuals with influenza. Separate studies analyzing the hospitalization rate of individuals with pneumonia and influenza between 2002 and 2011 reported pneumonia hospitalization rates by Klebsiella species, Pseudomonas species, S. aureus, and the influenza virus saw an increase. Pneumonia caused by H. Influenzae and pneumococcus, on the other hand, showed a decrease.

Heart Attacks: Another Major Killer…

Heart disease is responsible for more than its share of hospitalizations and deaths They are usually instigated by the generic heart attack, with recent data revealing heart disease-related deaths at 614,348 in the United States. That’s a ratio of 192.7 deaths for each 100,000 of population— and one of every four deaths.  Furthermore, sudden cardiac deaths (SCD), or fatal heart attacks where the heart suddenly stops functioning, has the dubious distinction of being the leading cause of mortality in the country, averaging 325,000 deaths a year.

What causes fatal heart attacks?

The culprit behind sudden cardiac deaths is arrhythmias, which is an abnormal rate or rhythm of the heartbeat, beating too quickly, too slowly or erratically. The fatal kind of arrhythmia is ventricular fibrillation, where the hearts beats out of rhythm to such an extent that the pumping chambers of the heart become inoperative.