Flu/heart attack link

A new study confirms a link between the flu and other respiratory infections and heart attack. The research published in The New England Journal of Medicine finds the chances of a heart attack  increase six-fold during the first seven days after flu infection.

"During their flu episode their body goes through a lot of changes.  It goes through increased inflammation, increased stress, their blood vessels tend to go into spasms, their blood gets a little more thicker, all of things can lead to complications of heart attack and a stroke," said Dr. Ravi Dave, Cardiologist, UCLA Health

Researchers looked at 20,000 adults in Canada and found the risk may be higher for older adults,  patients with flu B infections, and patients who never had a heart attack.  

Dr. Dave said,  "This season in particular has been devastating for patients with heart disease, diabetes, asthma because when they get the flu, their risk for having respiratory problems, including death have been very high"

He added that the findings magnify the  importance of getting vaccinated and taking precautions like washing your hands and staying home at least 24 hours, after fever subsides.
Doctors say it is still not too late to get the flu shot. It's recommended for people 6 months and older.

About a fourth of the confirmed cases of flu in Pennsylvania have been identified as the influenza B strain. That's the type researchers linked more closely to heart attack


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