Respiratory tract infections and heart attacks, what to do to avoid both

We found that the incidence of admissions for
acute myocardial infarction was six times as high
during the 7 days after laboratory confirmation
of influenza infection
as during the control interval
(20.0 admissions per week vs. 3.3 admissions
per week). The incidence ratio point estimates
were highest for older adults, for patients with
influenza B infection, and for patients who had
their first acute myocardial infarction (emphasis added)

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1702090

Here is an interesting study published two years ago that details the increased risk of having a heart attack after having a respiratory tract infection such as influenza.

Acute Myocardial Infarction after Laboratory-Confirmed Influenza Infection

Many of you have heard me talk about this phenomenon before. Cardiovascular disease, that is heart attacks and strokes, is a combination of inflammation and cholesterol dysfunction. Illnesses that provoke high inflammation like rheumatoid arthritis have higher rates of CVD while illnesses that reduce inflammation like Gilbert’s disease have lower rates. Similarly, genetic disorders of high cholesterol, regardless of shape or size of the cholesterol particle, are associated with higher rates of CVD.

Each illness in itself causes increased risk but when you combine them you see the rates go up even further. The most common modern illness that provokes a higher inflammation and increased cholesterol production is the insulin resistance spectrum of illnesses including diabetes.

The take away lesson here is to manage what you can manage before you get an infection. The four pillars of good health are designed to reduce your risk of heart disease, strokes, insulin resistance, and diabetes. They will also reduce your risk of serious infections too. You can improve your risk of infection even further by receiving the proper vaccinations (ie, your yearly flu shot) and following good hand hygiene principles throughout the year.

Take this time of social distancing and ‘Safer At Home’ isolation to improve your four pillars. Eat a whole food, low carbohydrate diet. Exercise regularly with both resistance training and cardiovascular fitness. Sleep on a regular schedule allowing for 8-9 hours of interrupted rest each night. Manage your stress by seeking peace through prayer, meditation, and counseling with others.

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