Laboratory-confirmed influenza increases risk of heart attack: Study

A doctor hold a syringe as part of the start of the seasonal influenza vaccination campaign in Nice, France October 24, 2017. Reuters

A new research has found that patients who are suffering from laboratory-confirmed influenza infection have about six- times more chances of a heart attack during the first seven days after the conception of the infection.

Researchers at the Institute of Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) and Public Health Ontario (PHO) have found the association between influenza and acute myocardial infarction.

The study published in the New England Journal of Medicine says that the risk of heart attack due to infection is more in older adults, patients with influenza B infections, and patients experiencing their first heart attack. The research has also identified higher risk among people affected by respiratory infections caused by other viruses.

Jeff Kwong, a scientist at ICES and PHO and lead author of the study said, "Our findings, combined with previous evidence that influenza vaccination reduces cardiovascular events and mortality, support international guidelines that advocate for influenza immunization in those at high risk of a heart attack."

A study on around 20,000 Ontario adult cases of laboratory-confirmed influenza infection from 2009 to 2014 has found that 332 patients who were hospitalized with heart attacks had a history of laboratory-confirmed influenza diagnosed within one year.

Researchers warn that people at risk of heart diseases should take precautions to prevent respiratory infections, especially influenza, through measures including vaccination, proper handwashing, and better maintenance of hygiene. Medical evaluation for myocardial infarction symptoms should be necessarily taken within the first week of an acute respiratory infection.

Seasonal influenza spreads from one person to another and can affect any age group. Even though they mainly occur during winters in temperate climatic regions, they can spread throughout the year in tropical regions.

Vaccinations and antiviral drugs are available for this worldwide circulated disease.
World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated about 3 to 5 million cases of severe illness annually across the globe which results in around 2,90,000 to 6,50,000 deaths.