A study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine has added credence to the link between serious heart conditions and influenza. According to the researchers, patients admitted to the hospital due to flu were found to have a cardiac complication in spite of not having documented underlying conditions.
Eric Chow, lead author of the study from the University of Washington School of Medicine, said in a statement, "Previous to our study, there had been suggestions between the link, but our study shows just how common it is."
Importance of Getting A Flu Shot
A study looking at more than 80,000 adult patients hospitalized with flu over eight seasons found that sudden, serious heart complications were common, occurring in 12 percent of patients, or one in 8.
The study underscores the importance of getting a flu shot early. "There are few respiratory viruses we have a vaccine for. "Our team motto is to get a flu shot," Chow said. The study found that five percent of patients hospitalized with the flu had a cardiac complication despite having no documented underlying conditions.
In the last month, there have been cases of otherwise healthy athletes showing signs of heart complications after recovering from COVID-19. For example, 27-year-old Florida State basketball player Michael Ojo, who recovered from COVID-19, died of an apparent heart attack at a practice.
Need to Receive Flu Vaccination
Chow said he is not surprised this is happening to healthy people who have been infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The virus can cause damage to the lungs and other organs, including the heart. Inflammation makes hearts vulnerable to potentially fatal arrhythmias during vigorous exercise.
In this study of adults hospitalized with flu, 12 percent had acute heart complications. Of these, 30 percent were admitted to the ICU and seven percent died while in the hospital. The researchers said that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone six months and older get a flu vaccine every flu season.
According to the CDC, flu vaccination is always considered important for people at high risk of developing serious flu complications, including people with heart disease. Flu shots are approved for people with heart disease, but people with heart disease should not receive the live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV, also known as the nasal spray flu vaccine).
(With inputs from agencies)