This autumn infection could KILL you

Don't look now, but autumn is barely a month away.

You know what to expect: cooler temperatures, colorful leaves, and lots of pumpkin spice.

But there's one more "sign of the season" you also need to watch out for that's far more important than any of those others.

Once autumn arrives, all the nasty respiratory illnesses that come with cooler weather won't be far behind -- and that includes pneumonia.

And if you think this infection is just a bad cold or "like the flu," I've got news for you: It's not only far more dangerous, but it could also kill you even after you THINK you've recovered!

New research reveals the true toll of pneumonia, showing how it can leave behind the kind of damage that could come back to haunt you years later -- and that includes damage in and around your heart.

The study looked at two common and deadly infections -- pneumonia and sepsis -- and found that being hospitalized for either condition will increase your risk of heart disease, death from heart disease, and stroke.

It's a risk that can last for years, but the biggest "danger zone" is early on.

Within one year of that hospitalization, the odds of being diagnosed with cardiovascular disease jumps by nearly six and a half times.

Within two years, the risk isn't quite as high, but it's still far too high for comfort: You have two and a half times the risk of cardiovascular disease.

After three years, the risk is still more than double -- and it remains that high or close to it right through to the five-year mark.

The numbers are so ugly that pneumonia hospitalization is a bigger risk factor for heart problems than obesity, high blood pressure, or poor physical activity.

And while the study was on men, there would no doubt be similar numbers in women.

You might think there's not much you can do about this beyond cross your fingers and hope for the best.

After all, you can't really control if you get pneumonia, right?

Well, it turns out you can -- but, like those TV offers used to say, only if you act now.

If you wait until after you're sick, you'll have waited too long, so start by turbo-charging your immune system with infection-fighting nutrients today. Give your body the immune-boosters proven to guard against flu and pneumonia, starting with one of the most basic of all: vitamin E.

A study last year found this powerful immune-booster can cut the risk of pneumonia in older men by 69 percent. Some of the best sources are autumn favorites: sunflower and pumpkin seeds.