People with influenza stand the risk of a heart attack

People with influenza stand the risk of a heart attack

Vaccination can go a long way in preventing the onset of flu

New Delhi, January 25, 2018: Statistics indicate that people who get flu may be at a six-fold higher risk of heart attack in the week following infection. The risk of heart attack — or myocardial infarction — is particularly acute in older adults. These findings assume importance as an association between influenza and acute myocardial infarction reinforces the need for vaccination. While other respiratory viruses were also seen to raise the risk of heart attack, the incidence was not as high as the flu virus.

Influenza or ‘the flu’ is a highly contagious disease caused by infection from influenza type A or B (or rarely C) virus. These viruses infect the upper airways and lungs. Flu is not similar to a common cold and can be a serious illness. It is particularly of harm to the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee Dr K K Aggarwal, President Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) and Immediate Past National President Indian Medical Association (IMA), said, “During flu illness, our body is under a lot of stress and inflammation is up. Further, the oxygen levels and blood pressure can drop which can lead to an increased risk of blood clots in the vessels that serve the heart. All of these can cause heart attack. Vaccination is the best way to reduce the risk of getting flu. Being vaccinated gives you protection against flu by building immunity to the virus and preventing transmission of the virus to other people.”

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The initial symptoms of flu include headaches, chills, and a cough. Other signs such as fever, loss of appetite, and muscle aches follow late. Apart from this, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are rare in adults but more common in children.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also Group Editor of IJCP, said, “There are other complications of a flu such as bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, or diabetes. It is, therefore, important to not ignore symptoms of a flu. Chest pains and shortness of breath might indicate a lot more.”

The following tips can help prevent influenza.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
  • If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. This will help prevent spreading your illness to others.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
  • Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

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