New study links heart attacks to flu

If you just finished up with the flu, it may be time to start thinking about your heart. A new study shows flu increases the risk of heart attacks in elderly people.

CEDAR PARK, TEXAS - A new study is linking a higher risk of having a heart attack to the flu.

Angel Caldera, MD, with Baylor, Scott and White Health said doctors knew the flu could spark heart problems.

A new Canadian study showed the risk was six times higher within a week of the flu being diagnosed.

Caldera said age is a main factor.

“When they look into patients that are younger than 65 or older than 65, the risk was higher in those older than 65,” he explained.

He also said, while they still suggest getting the flu vaccine, the study showed that those without the vaccine had the same risk as those who were vaccinated.

Caldera also mentioned that the study is not limited to influenza.

“There were other viruses in this study that were associated also with an incidence of a heart attack, different than the influenza,” Caldera said. “So any upper respiratory tract infection appears to increase the risk in that.”

He said people need to know their risks of a heart attack ahead of time, as the virus can act as a catalyst for something that may be lingering.

"Cholesterol, smoking, physical activity, obesity, diabetes, and so on and so forth. Once you have any of those risk factors, you have to get on top to try to minimize them,” Caldera said. “You never make your risk zero, unfortunately, but, by controlling these risk factors, you reduce the likelihood of something happening to you.” 

© 2018 KVUE-TV


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