MI risk increases 17-fold after respiratory infection

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The risk remains elevated for up to a month.

Findings from a new study suggest that respiratory infection can raise the short-term risk of myocardial infarction (MI) 17-fold.

In what is believed to be the first study to report an association between respiratory infection and increased MI risk in patients with angiographically confirmed MI, 578 patients were interviewed to assess recent experience of respiratory infection symptoms.

The relative risk (RR) for MI occurring within 1-7 days after symptoms of respiratory infection was 17.0 and 13.5 for those with milder symptoms. RR tended to be lower in groups taking regular cardiac medications.

“Our findings confirm what has been suggested in prior studies that a respiratory infection can act as a trigger for a heart attack,” said senior author Professor Geoffrey Tofler from the University of Sydney. “The data showed that the increased risk of a heart attack isn’t necessarily just at the beginning of respiratory symptoms, it peaks in the first seven days and gradually reduces but remains elevated for one month.”

Writing in the  Internal Medicine Journal , the authors said further study is needed to identify treatment strategies to decrease this risk, particularly in individuals who may have increased susceptibility.

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