By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS
The flu may trigger heart attacks, according to a recent study.
The research was the first time a study looked at laboratory tests and showed a conclusive link. The Canadian study found a six-fold increase in heart attacks shortly after people were diagnosed.
Researchers looked at 19,729 adult cases of lab-confirmed flu from 2009 to 2014 in Ontario, Canada. They focused on 332 patients, most over 65, who had been hospitalized for a heart attack within a year before or after their flu diagnosis. The study found there were 20 admissions per week during the seven days after a flu diagnosis compared with only 3.3 per week in the year before and after a flu diagnosis.
“This is an impressive finding and an important reminder that the flu is not benign,” said Dr. Vincent Bufalino, a cardiologist and president of Advocate Medical Group in Naperville, Illinois. Bufalino was not involved in the study.
The study didn’t offer reasons why the flu is linked to heart attacks. But Bufalino said advances are being made in understanding the links between infections, inflammation and coronary artery disease.
Flu activity in the U.S. usually begins in October or November and peaks between December and February. It can last as late as May, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Each year in the U.S., the flu is estimated to cause between 12,000 and 56,000 deaths and up to 710,000 hospitalizations.