Influenza increases risk of heart attack in sick people

People with the flu are six times more likely to have a heart attack during the first week of the infection. This is the result of a study published Wednesday, January 24 in the New England Journal of Medicine, which reinforces the need to widely expand immunization.

“We found that you’re six times more likely to have a heart attack during the week after being diagnosed with influenza, compared to the year before or after the infection,” says study author Dr. Jeff Kwong, an epidemiologist and family physician with the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and Public Health Ontario in Canada.

The study is based on nearly 20,000 influenza cases in adults, confirmed by laboratories in Ontario between 2009 and 2014. Of these patients, 332 were hospitalized following a heart attack in the year that followed an infection with the influenza virus.

Focus on immunization

The risk of heart attack is particularly high in the elderly, say the authors of the study. This confirms previous studies showing a link between influenza, heart attacks and increased mortality.

“These findings are important because they confirm a link between influenza and myocardial infarction and reinforce the importance of immunization,” said Jeff Kwong, a researcher at the Institute of Clinical and Health Sciences. of Ontario in Canada .

Danger the first seven days

Heart risk appears to have been greatest in the first seven days of influenza, especially in the elderly infected with influenza B virus as well as those undergoing a first infarction.

“This is mostly a problem in people over 65, but the fact remains that everyone is at risk, whether they’re low- or high-risk,” he tells Global News. “In the week after infection, the chance of heart attack jumps up six times compared to the year before or after infection.”

Other viral agents responsible for respiratory infections also increase the danger of heart attack but not as much as the flu virus, notes the study.

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