Researchers confirm link between flu and heart attack
TORONTO, January 24, 2018 — Chances of a heart attack are increased six-fold during the first seven days after detection of laboratory-confirmed influenza infection according to a new study by researchers at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) and Public Health Ontario (PHO).
“Our findings are important because an association between influenza and acute myocardial infarction reinforces the importance of vaccination,” says Dr. Jeff Kwong, a scientist at ICES and PHO and lead author of the study.
In the study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, the researchers found a significant association between acute respiratory infections, particularly influenza, and acute myocardial infarction.
The risk may be higher for older adults, patients with influenza B infections, and patients experiencing their first heart attack. The researchers also found elevated risk – albeit not as high as for influenza – with infection from other respiratory viruses.
“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 heart attacks,” says Kwong.