According to a recent study by the University of Sydney - First to report an association between respiratory infections such as pneumonia, influenza and bronchitis and increased risk of heart attack in patients - in the seven days following a respiratory infection, the risk of having a heart attack is 17 times higher.
The study was published in Internal Medicine Journal.
Respiratory infection can act as a trigger for a heart attack
“Our findings confirm what has been suggested in prior studies that a respiratory infection can act as a trigger for a heart attack,” said senior author Geoffrey Tofler. “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 7 days and gradually reduces but remains elevated for one month,” he added. During the study, 578 consecutive patients with heart attack due to a coronary artery blockage were investigated, who reported on recent and usual occurrence of symptoms of respiratory infection. While 17 percent of patients reported symptoms of respiratory infection within 7 days of the heart attack, 21 per cent others within 31 days.
Increased tendency towards blood clotting could be the reason
Tofler added: “Possible reasons for why respiratory infection may trigger a heart attack include an increased tendency towards blood clotting, inflammation and toxins damaging blood vessels, and changes in blood flow.” “Our message to people is while the absolute risk that any one episode will trigger a heart attack is low, they need to be aware that a respiratory infection could lead to a coronary event. So consider preventative strategies where possible, and don’t ignore symptoms that could indicate a heart attack,” he noted.