Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Flu virus can also spark heart attacks: Research

Model of Influenza Virus from NIHImage via Wikipedia

Heart patients who catch a flu may have more than just a fever or the sniffles to worry about: The virus could also spark a heart attack, new research shows.

Amid the global outbreak of Influenza A, it is crucial that patients get vaccinated against both regular flu and the H1N1 virus.

British researchers analysed 39 previous studies of heart patients, and found a consistent link between flu and heart attacks.

Up to half of all unexpected flu deaths were due to heart disease, they said in a study published online yesterday in the British medical journal, The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

Flu viruses cause inflammation, usually in the lungs. But they can also cause swelling in the heart or in the coronary arteries, which could lead to dangerous clots breaking off and causing a heart attack.

Once heart patients get the flu, they become more vulnerable to complications like pneumonia and other infections.

Two of the studies analysed showed that heart patients who got a flu shot had fewer heart attacks than those who didn't.

Flu viruses might also merely act as triggers for heart attacks in cardiovascular patients.

Experts are unsure whether the study results apply to otherwise healthy people with no history of heart disease. But the viruses could potentially trigger heart attacks in people with risk factors like high blood pressure or who are overweight. AP

From TODAY, News – Wednesday, 23-Sep-2009