Flu Triggers Heart Attacks

April 19, 2007

Not only does influenza cause long term heart disease as I pointed out in my 1918 Spanish Flu & Heart Disease post, but it seems the flu can trigger heart attacks within days.

Researchers believe that flu causes an acute and severe inflammation in the body, which, in some patients, can destabilise atherosclerotic plaques [2] in coronary arteries and cause heart attacks.

Prof Madjid said: “Most people develop atherosclerotic lesions in their coronary arteries in early childhood and these lesions grow over time. Inflammation plays a pivotal role in development and growth of these lesions. Most people in Western countries live with different stages of atherosclerosis and many will never show any clinical manifestations of the atherosclerosis. However, in some patients the quiescent, stable atherosclerotic plaques undergo sudden changes, mainly due to exaggerated inflammation, leading to rupture of these vulnerable plaques and subsequent formation of clots resulting in heart attacks.

“This study shows that flu is an important trigger of heart attacks because flu is a severe infection, with high incidence rates and is readily preventable. Therefore, our results give us a new tool for preventing heart attacks.

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