Heart attack: Influenza could increase the risk of symptoms


Fortunately, data suggests that heart attacks are less frequent today than they were 20 years ago, yet the condition kills thousands of people in the UK each year. In fact, around 1.4 million people alive in the UK today have survived an acute event. The vast majority of cases are preventable, but as the risk of catching the flu grows during the winter, so may the risk of having a heart attack.

Stephen Kissler, at Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health, suggested earlier this year that wearing masks could help control future outbreaks of the flu.

But early data suggests that cases of influenza could rise to pre-pandemic levels this year, which may pose additional health risks.

The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention writes: “Among adults hospitalised with flu during recent flu seasons, heart disease was one of the most common chronic (long-term) conditions – about half of adults hospitalised with flu have heart disease.

“Studies have shown that flu illness is associated with an increase in heart attacks and stroke.



“A 2018 study found that the risk of having a heart attack was six times higher within a week of a confirmed flu infection.”

The findings of the research, funded by the Canadian Institute of Health Research, were most pronounced for older adults and those experiencing their first heart attack.

Influenza puts stress on the heart and vascular system by eliciting an inflammatory response in the body.

Inflammation occurs when white blood cells conglomerate to fight off an infection, bacteria or virus.

This can result in swelling and pain in the muscles and lymph nodes throughout the body.

This activity comes with a greater risk of blood clotting, high blood pressure or swelling and scarring in the heart.

Furthermore, plaque inside the arteries can rupture, which can cause a blockage in the vessels leading to the heart and brain.

Other research supports the association between flu and heart attack, such as one 2020 study that looked at more than 80,000 adults hospitalised with flu.

The findings showed that in adults hospitalised with flu over eight seasons, sudden, serious heart complications occurred in one out of every eight patients, equating to roughly 12 percent of patients.

The flu vaccine, which is available through the NHS, can help protect people from getting seriously ill from the flu.

The NHS recommends getting the jab in autumn, or early winter before the flu starts spreading.

“But you can get the vaccine later,” adds the health body.



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