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Seasonal Influenza Can Lead to Heart Complications October 16, 2009

For more information, contact Erica Cline at 706/828-2397.

Seasonal Influenza Can Lead to Heart Complications

(AUGUSTA, GA. -- Oct. 16, 2009) Of all the complications of flu, there’s one that might not even be on the radar of most people – heart attack.

According to reports published in the October edition of The Lancet Infectious Disease, flu can trigger heart attacks and cause cardiovascular death, but the influenza vaccine may offer protection for cardiac patients. Thus, more efforts are needed to encourage people with heart disease and diabetes (which increases the risk of heart attacks) to have the flu jab. This might be especially important with the looming double-whammy of the H1N1 influenza (swine flu) pandemic and seasonal flu outbreaks when many more people are expected to catch the flu.

Doris Tummillo, M.D., a cardiologist who practices at University Hospital, said researchers are unsure why heart attacks can be a complication of the flu, but they suspect flu might cause acute and severe inflammation, which can potentially destabilize atherosclerotic plaques and cause clots in coronary arteries leading to heart attacks.

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