Can Flu Cause a Heart Attack?
The physical stress of influenza can apparently trigger a heart attack. According to a case-control study, the risk of developing a disease increases 6-fold in the first week of influenza. Infections with type B influenza viruses appear to be particularly dangerous. But other triggers of acute respiratory infections could also be confirmed as triggers.
For the study, data from 11 laboratories of Public Health Ontario, the highest health authority in the Canadian province, were evaluated. They had carried out almost 150,000 tests for influenza between 2009 and 2014, of which 19,729 were positive.
The study authors analyzed that 344 of these patients had been hospitalized for a heart attack the year before or after the influenza. In a case-control study, the researchers examined whether the heart attacks occurred close to the time of the influenza test.
This was clearly the case for the first 7 days after the positive laboratory test for influenza. No increased incidence was observed after day 7.
People with a presumably very severe flu therefore had an increased risk of an acute heart attack. Older people are particularly at risk. Influenza B is more dangerous than influenza A. In addition, the risk of having a first heart attack is higher than for people who have previously had a heart attack.
The researchers were also able to show that other serious respiratory infections trigger a heart attack. Scientists believe that myocardial infarction is probably not a direct result of influenza. They attribute the increased heart attack risk to physical exertion or other systemic consequences of the disease. Source: Ärzteblatt. You can find the study here.