London: Infectious diseases such as typhoid, measles, chicken pox, bronchitis, tuberculosis and dengue in childhood can increase risk of getting a heart attack in adulthood, suggests new research.
The researchers found that unhealthy lifestyles in adulthood appear to compound the risk.
"One explanation is that infection initiates chronic inflammation and atherosclerosis in the arteries," said researcher Andriany Qanitha from Academic Medical Centre of Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
"It could (also) be that infection modifies cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors and leads to ACS," Qanitha noted.
This was a population-based case-control study of 153 patients with a first acute coronary syndromes (ACS) or heart attacks before the age of 56 years and 153 age- and sex-matched controls with no history of ACS in Makassar, Indonesia.
Severe infection was defined as fever for three days or more, or hospitalisation due to infectious disease.
The researchers used a detailed questionnaire and interviews with patients and controls, plus family members, to obtain information on history of infection during four periods of early life: infancy and pre-school (zero-five years), elementary school (six-13 years), junior high school (14-17 years), and senior high school (18-21 years).
The researchers found that infection experienced in childhood and adolescence was associated with a three-fold higher occurrence of premature heart attack later in life.
"Our findings may apply to other countries in South-East Asia where infectious disease is still prevalent," Qanitha noted.
The study is scheduled to be presented at an Acute Cardiovascular Care Association meeting to be held from October 17 -19 October in Vienna, Austria.