New Delhi: Seasonal infections like the flu and other respiratory problems such as pneumonia and bronchitis do more than just draw our attention towards strengthening our immune system. It increases our risk of a heart attack.
A recent study has warned that the seven days following a bout of any respiratory infection are crucial, since we are seventeen times more vulnerable to a heart attack during that period.
The findings confirm earlier research that pointed to an apparent link between respiratory infection and cardiac crises, scientists at the University of Sydney reported. “A respiratory infection can act as a trigger for a heart attack,” said senior author Professor Geoffrey Tofler. “The data showed that the increased risk of a heart attack isn’t necessarily just at the beginning of respiratory symptoms, it peaks in the first seven days and gradually reduces but remains elevated for one month.”
Pneumonia or bronchitis pose the biggest heart attack risk, the research found.
The study, published in the Internal Medicine Journal, was based on 578 patients who suffered a heart attack due to a coronary artery blockage. Patients were asked about their activities before having a heart attack, including if they experienced a recent “flu-like illness with fever and sore throat”, or of they had been diagnosed with pneumonia or bronchitis, said the report.
Seventeen percent of patients reported symptoms of respiratory infection within one week of the heart attack, and 21% within 31 days.
Tofler added, “Possible reasons for why respiratory infection may trigger a heart attack include an increased tendency towards blood clotting, inflammation and toxins damaging blood vessels, and changes in blood flow.” “Our message to people is while the absolute risk that any one episode will trigger a heart attack is low, they need to be aware that a respiratory infection could lead to a coronary event. So consider preventative strategies where possible, and don’t ignore symptoms that could indicate a heart attack,” he noted. Tofler said, “The next step is to identify treatment strategies to decrease this risk of heart attack, particularly in individuals who may have increased susceptibility.”
(With Agency inputs)