A new study by the University Medical Center Utrecht that analyzed data from over 26,000 patients in the Netherlands has found that people are six times more likely to suffer a heart attack the week after having the flu.
The flu virus increases stickiness in the blood, leading to clots
The virus increases stickiness in the blood, which, along with inflammation, weakens fatty plaques in the arteries leading to a clot. The researchers hope this study will highlight the importance of vaccination and awareness of heart attack symptoms in flu patients.
Previous studies only focused on hospitalized heart attack patients. Still, a new study from the Julius Center for Life Sciences and Primary Care at UMC Utrecht in the Netherlands analyzed data from 16 labs covering around two-fifths of the population, along with death and hospital records, to gain a more accurate overview. For instance, a study in Canada in 2018 didn’t include the formation of death records, which implies that researchers didn’t have deaths outside hospitals.
The study found a link between flu and heart attacks due to the virus’s ability to increase blood stickiness and inflammation, weakening fatty plaques in the arteries and causing clots.
The risk of heart attack is 6.16 times higher after the flu
It is important to note that the study analyzed 26,221 cases of influenza from 2008 to 2019 and found that out of the 400 patients who had the flu and a heart attack within a year, 25 suffered a heart attack within the first week of the flu diagnosis. Patients were found to be 6.16 times more likely to have a heart attack during the week after their flu diagnosis than in the year before or after their illness. The study highlights the importance of vaccination and awareness of heart attack symptoms in flu patients. According to the Canadian, the risk of heart attacks increases by 6.05 times following a flu diagnosis. However, Dutch researchers found a weaker association between flu and heart attacks, which they attribute to differences in testing practices between the two countries.