It is common knowledge that proper diet, exercise, and stress management are important for the prevention of heart attack. But could your efforts to maintain a healthy lifestyle be wiped out by illness or infection? Research suggests that infections such as urinary tract infections, influenza, and pneumonia can increase your risk of heart attack for three months or more following the illness. This means proper handwashing techniques and avoidance of germ-laden hot spots can be important for avoiding much more than just the common cold. Here are some common infections and illnesses that just might increase your risk of heart attack, and how to avoid them.
The relationship between flu and heart disease can be a vicious cycle. Heart disease and stroke place a person at a greater risk of contracting the flu. Meanwhile, the flu itself places one at greater risk of heart disease and heart attack. It is thought that the inflammation that occurs in the body when fighting off an infection contributes to the risk of heart disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that flu vaccines can prevent the serious complications of flu that can land a patient in the hospital. Additionally, the flu vaccine itself is linked to lowered risk of heart attack.
Research presented in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that the risk of cardiovascular disease was four times higher in the first 30 days following hospitalization for pneumonia. This risk decreased over time, but remained as high as 1.5 times the normal rate even years later. Furthermore, JAMA declares the risk of heart disease following hospitalization for pneumonia to be comparable to the risks seen with smoking, diabetes, or high blood pressure. Yearly vaccination against the flu can prevent an infection with the influenza virus from progressing into pneumonia. A pneumococcal vaccine is also available and may be beneficial to those at risk of contracting pneumonia.