Heart Health

published : 2023-11-10

How the Flu Can Increase the Risk of Heart Attacks

Physicians Weigh In on the Link and Who Is Most at Risk

A person receiving a flu shot from a healthcare professional, promoting the importance of flu vaccination in preventing heart complications. (Taken with Canon EOS 5D)

As flu season approaches, the looming threat of the virus goes beyond the typical symptoms of pneumonia, fever, and body aches.

Recent studies have revealed a startling connection between the flu and an increased risk of heart attacks.

In fact, those who contract the flu have been found to be six times more likely to experience a heart attack within a week of testing positive compared to other years.

A group of researchers from the Netherlands presented their findings at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID) meeting in Copenhagen, shedding light on this concerning correlation.

The American Heart Association (AHA) has also acknowledged a spike in cardiovascular-related deaths during flu epidemics.

Furthermore, another study conducted in the United States found that out of over 80,000 adult flu patients hospitalized between 2010 and 2018, one in eight experienced serious heart complications.

A doctor explaining the potential link between the flu and heart attacks to a patient, emphasizing the need for awareness and preventive actions. (Taken with Nikon D850)

Dr. Aaron E. Glatt, an infectious diseases expert, emphasized the link between the flu and serious heart diseases, advising that flu vaccination is strongly recommended for adults.

Although the exact mechanism is not fully understood, it is believed that the inflammatory response triggered by the influenza virus plays a role in these potentially dangerous consequences.

Dr. Frederick Davis, an emergency medicine specialist, explained that the flu puts additional stress on the body, leading to elevated temperatures and heart rates.

This added stress has been found to increase the risk of cardiac complications after flu infections, including heart attacks and congestive heart failure exacerbations.

The inflammation caused by the flu may create blood clots, raise blood pressure, and contribute to heart swelling and scarring, posing further risks for those with pre-existing cardiovascular issues.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strongly recommends that everyone six months and older receive an annual flu shot to help prevent complications.

A group of medical researchers discussing their findings on the connection between the flu and increased cardiovascular risks at a scientific conference. (Taken with Sony Alpha a7 III)

In fact, the AHA published a report stating that getting vaccinated for the flu can lessen the risk of specific types of heart attacks in individuals aged 60 and older.

Awareness of potential cardiac effects is crucial during recovery from the flu, where shortness of breath should not be ignored as it may indicate heart involvement.

By understanding the connection between the flu and heart health, individuals, especially those with existing heart conditions, can take proactive measures to protect themselves.

Flu season typically peaks between December and February, making it important to take preventive actions and get vaccinated.

Let's prioritize our health and ensure we stay safe in the face of this infectious threat.