Study Says Flu boosts heart-attack risk
The paper, published in the journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases, examines the mortality figures for acute myocardial infarction – a heart attack – and cardiovascular disease during flu outbreaks between 1932 and 2008.
The current pandemic of the H1N1 virus was not included in the snapshot.
Between 35 and 50 percent of the increase of deaths during influenza outbreaks could be attributed to cardiovascular problems, he says.
The authors, led by infectious disease epidemiologists Charlotte Warren-Gash and Andrew Hayward University College London, say the flu virus causes inflammation and acts on the molecular pathways of blood coagulation control.
These effects could destabilize the fatty deposits that line the artery wall and cause clots that block the coronary arteries, they say.
Only a few investigations have been conducted to determine whether influenza vaccination helps protect heart patients, but the little evidence available suggests it does, the document said.
“We believe that influenza vaccination should be encouraged, whenever indicated, especially in those with cardiovascular disease,” he says.
Currently, vaccines for seasonal flu “is recommended in many countries for people with chronic medical conditions. In general, include cardiovascular disease, but no other heart problems such as hypertension.
Relatively few people at risk of taking the vaccine, however. In Britain, only 47.2 percent of people with chronic conditions received the seasonal flu jab, according to figures cited in the study.