Patients who have had a recent respiratory infection are at significantly increased risk of suffering a cardiovascular event soon after, a UK study suggests.
People are twice as likely to have a myocardial infarction or stroke in the week immediately following infection with flu or pneumonia, regardless of their age or gender, the research shows.
According to the authors, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, it explains the excess winter deaths seen in mortality data trends and backs the national flu vaccination programme.
The study, soon to be published in the European Heart Journal, looked at a UK primary care database of two million patients.
Of 20,363 patients who experienced a primary cardiovascular event over a year, 2% had a respiratory infection during the preceding month, compared with 0.9% of controls. The risk was highest three days following infection and reduced as time went on till it was little increased beyond one month, the authors said.