The unexpected connection between infection and heart disease.

Updated: Aug 15


It is a well known fact in the scientific community that risk of heart attack peaks with various infections, both viral and bacterial. The risk is higher with chest infections and the risk is proportional to the severity of the illness. The sicker you are, the longer the risk persist after an infection.

Heart attack and stroke incidents peak during the influenza season and is not merely a coincidence.

About 30-40% of my patients who had suffered from a heart attack or stroke tells me they felt incredibly tired for few days before they had the life changing event. I believe that was ongoing inflammation of sorts that led to the ultimate event.

The mechanism is thought to be cholesterol plaque disruption by inflammatory cells, platelet and clot producing enzymes activation by the infection and increased clot generating gene expression induced by the virus.


Unfortunately this is not a well known fact outside the medical community and annual influenza vaccination rates are dismal, especially amongst those under 65 in United States and probably elsewhere too

.

There is a lot you can do, however.

1- Increase awareness amongst friends and family members and spread the word.

2- Get vaccinated- Influenza and pneumococcal vaccination reduce risk of cardiovascular events by 36% and 17% respectively. Covid vaccine probably does too, but more data is necessary.

3- Manage your risk of heart and blood vessel disease. Most people that suffer from heart attack have preventable risk factors.


Acknowledgment: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMra1808137


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