Common winter illness could hike your risk of heart attack by six times

Common winter illness could hike your risk of heart attack by six times

NHS details signs of a heart attack

From high cholesterol to high blood pressure, the major drivers for heart attacks are underlined by poor dietary choices.

However, research suggests that one risk factor that is more prevalent in the winter could be out of your control – catching the flu.

Worryingly, the week following an influenza diagnosis could be especially dangerous for your heart.

A study previously found that patients with the virus could be six times more likely to suffer from a heart attack the week after catching the virus.

The research team arrived at these findings after analysing data from more than 26,000 patients across the Netherlands.

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According to Dr Bruno Silvester Lopes, Lecturer in Microbiology from Teesside University, the reason why the common winter bug can hike your risk comes down to inflammation.

Dr Lopes told “Fighting flu infection can put stress on your heart, as your immune system launches a fierce defence mechanism to fend off the virus. 

“This leads to internal inflammation which can raise blood pressure putting strain on the heart. 

“These detrimental changes in our body can lead to a heart attack.”

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Warning signs of a heart attack

Fortunately, the doctor outlined the warning signs of a heart attack that warrant calling 999.

The expert said: “There are several warning signs to look out for, including chest discomfort like pain, burning or a squeezing sensation. You may also have pain or discomfort in the back, neck, jaw, or stomach, which may feel like indigestion. 

“You can also experience pain in one or both arms which will usually feel like pain radiating in the left arm but sometimes both arms can be affected. 

“Breathlessness, feeling dizzy or overwhelmed, feeling ill and vomiting, experiencing nausea, cold sweats, and dry skin with blueness to the lips are also warning signs to look out for.”

If you notice any of these signs, Dr Lopes recommends calling 999 and getting urgent medical help. 

How to reduce your risk of a heart attack following flu infection

From regular exercise to a healthy diet, there are many lifestyle habits that could reduce your risk of the life-threatening emergency.

The expert recommended doing regular 30 to 60-minute bouts of exercise to lower your blood pressure and protect your heart and blood vessels. “Engaging in regular exercise such as swimming, cycling or even walking also helps in losing weight which can decrease the chances of a heart attack,” he added.

Furthermore, eating a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, legumes, beans, fish, and lean meats could also help. Dr Lopes said: “You should also keep yourself hydrated, and decrease the intake of processed foods.”

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