Increased risk of heart attack from flu infection?
During the past waves of influenza, it was repeatedly found in various hospitals that the number of people infected with a Heart attack were admitted has increased. But it really can Influenza infection the Risk increase for a myocardial infarction?
Apparently yes: For example, one in the trade journal “The New England Journal of Medicine“ published study that influenza increases the risk of a Heart attack sixfold. And people with heart disease suffer, according to another Study almost ten times more likely to have a myocardial infarction after contracting the flu, reports the infectious disease expert Dr. Kristin Englund in a current contribution der Cleveland Clinic (USA).
People with heart disease are more affected
This is what happens when you have the flu immune system aggressively to ward off the virus. The reaction causes internal inflammation, which can increase your blood pressure and put extra strain on your heart, explains Dr. english
Plaque deposits in the arteries become increasingly prone to rupture in this situation. When plaques rupture, the arteries can become clogged blood clot build up and disrupt blood flow to your heart – a blockage could trigger a heart attack.
People with existing heart problems are more likely to cardiovascular system being overwhelmed by the effects of the flu, says Dr. english
“Fighting the infection can do the heart strain heavily“she adds. “If you have an underlying health problem like heart disease, complications from the flu can lead to something much worse.”
Can flu cause other serious health problems?
Absolutely – and that’s a reality backed by statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) beeing confirmed.
Between 2010 and 2020, between 140,000 and 710,000 people were sickened each year in the United States due to the flu hospital delivered, according to estimates by the CDC. Influenza-related deaths ranged from 12,000 to 52,000 over the same period.
“The flu is often underestimated”, notes Dr. english “It’s not just a cold, and it can be deadly.” Possible complications of flu are:
- lung infection and bacterial pneumonia, which can lead to respiratory failure. “That’s complication #1”, said Dr. England. “If people’s pneumonia gets bad enough, they often end up on a ventilator.”
- Additional heart problems such as myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) or an arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm)
- encephalopathy (severe damage to the central nervous system)
Who is most at risk of flu complications?
You are at high risk of developing flu complications if you have other serious health problems, including heart disease and/or a compromised immune system due to age (either very young or older).
Tips for preventing flu-related heart problems
Be proactive to prevent problems with the flu by doing the following:
Get vaccinated: According to a study conducted by the American Heart Association (AHA) reported that seasonal flu shots can significantly reduce the risk of heart attack or cardiac arrest if you are in a high-risk group.
Avoid contact with sick people: No shaking hands during flu season. Stay away from other people’s bodily fluids. Good hand hygiene with frequent hand washing is also important.
Keep your heart in check: If you have heart disease, carefully manage your condition with medication, proper diet, and exercise as recommended by your health care provider. These preventative measures will help keep your overall immune system strong. If your heart condition is stable and you catch the flu, you are more likely to experience fewer and less severe complications.
Don’t ignore flu-like symptoms: Talk to your doctor immediately, especially if you belong to a risk group. Timing is important. Medications can easily shorten the duration of the flu if taken within a few days of symptoms appearing.
Take time to rest: If you have flu-like symptoms, take time to rest and drink plenty of fluids. The longer you stay home and rest, the faster you will recover. (ad)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of medical specialist literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical professionals.
- Cleveland Clinic: Can the Flu Trigger a Heart Attack?, (Abruf: 05.10.2022), Cleveland Clinic
- Jeffrey C. Kwong, et al.: Acute Myocardial Infarction after Laboratory-Confirmed Influenza Infection; in: The New England Journal of Medicine, (veröffentlicht: 25.01.2018), The New England Journal of Medicine
- Charlotte Warren-Gash, Ruth Blackburn, Heather Whitaker, Jim McMenamin, Andrew C Hayward: Laboratory-confirmed respiratory infections as triggers for acute myocardial infarction and stroke: a self-controlled case series analysis of national linked datasets from Scotland; in: European Respiratory Journal, (veröffentlicht: 29.03.2018), European Respiratory Journal
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Disease Burden of Flu, (Abruf: 05.10.2022), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- American Heart Association: Flu vaccine could protect against serious heart and stroke complications, (Abruf: 05.10.2022), American Heart Association
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. He can not substitute a visit at the doctor.