Chance of heart attack jumps 17-fold after respiratory infections, study finds

Patients are 17 times more likely to have a heart attack in the seven days after catching a respiratory infection, according to a new study published in Internal Medicine Journal.

For the study, researchers from the University of Sydney in Australia interviewed 578 heart attack patients within four days of hospitalization to identify those with recent respiratory infection symptoms.

Researchers found 17 percent of patients reported respiratory infection symptoms within one week of their heart attack, and 21 percent reported symptoms within 31 days.

"Our findings confirm what has been suggested in prior studies that a respiratory infection can act as a trigger for a heart attack," cardiologist and senior author Geoffrey Tofler, MD, told Science Daily. "The data showed that the increased risk of a heart attack isn't necessarily just at the beginning of respiratory symptoms, it peaks in the first seven days and gradually reduces but remains elevated for one month."

The study authors note further research is needed to identify treatment strategies to lower heart attack risk associated with respiratory diseases.

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