A Link Between Flu and Heart Attacks? Mass General Cardiologist Weighs In

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New research has found yet another reason to avoid catching the flu this season- it could increase your risk of a heart attack if you’re over the age of 35.

A recent study from investigators at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and Public Health Ontario in Canada have found that you’re six times more likely to have a heart attack during the week after being diagnosed with the flu, compared to the year before or after the infection.

However, your chances of having a heart attack when you have the flu depends on your baseline risk. Most of the people who had a heart attack in this study were over the age of 65, and a lot of them had risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes.

Malissa Wood, MD, Co-Director of the Corrigan Women’s Heart Health Program at Massachusetts General Hospital, says that these results confirm the connection between cardiovascular events, such as a heart attack, and respiratory infections like the flu.

“The flu is like a stress test for the heart,” says Wood in this NBC Boston news clip.

Of course, the best way to reduce your risk of flu-related health complications is to avoid getting the flu in the first place. Learn about preventative steps that you can take.

About the Mass General Research Institute
Massachusetts General Hospital is home to the largest hospital-based research program in the United States. Our researchers work side-by-side with physicians to develop innovative new ways to diagnose, treat and prevent disease.
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