Study: Flu increases risk of heart attack sixfold

An influenza patient's risk of heart attack is elevated sixfold within the first week of laboratory-confirmed diagnosis, according to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

For the study, researchers analyzed data on 20,000 patients who experienced laboratory-confirmed flu cases between 2009 and 2014 in Ontario, Canada. Among them, 364 patients were hospitalized for acute myocardial infarction either one year before or after a flu diagnosis. Twenty hospitalizations occurred within the first week after diagnosis. Researchers found patients with laboratory-confirmed influenza had a six times higher chance of experiencing a heart attack within the first week of diagnosis. 

"Our findings, combined with previous evidence that influenza vaccination reduces cardiovascular events and mortality, support international guidelines that advocate for influenza immunization in those at high risk of a heart attack," Jeffery Kwong, MD, a scientist with Public Health Ontario and lead author of the study. "People at risk of heart disease should take precautions to prevent respiratory infections, and especially influenza, through measures including vaccinations and handwashing."

More articles on infection control: 
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San Diego County officials end emergency status for hep A outbreak: 5 things to know 
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