Common infections raise risk of heart attacks in same way as obesity and high blood pressure, major study suggests
Originally sourced from The Telegraph
Common infections could double the risk of stroke and significantly increase the chance of a heart attack, new research suggests.
Researchers said the dangers could be greater than those posed by obesity and on a par with high blood pressure or diabetes, in increasing risks to the heart.
The British study involving hospital patients admitted to hospital with infections found they had a 40 per cent greater chance of a heart attack while stroke risk was increased by 150 per cent.
Those suffering such infections were three times as likely to die, if they suffered heart disease, the study found.
The research used records from 1.2 million patients to track 34,000 patients admitted to hospital over 14 years suffering from urinary or respiratory tract infections.
They were then compared with a control group of patients the same age and gender without such diagnoses.
The research from Aston Medical School in Birmingham found such patients were three times more likely to die if they developed heart disease and almost twice as likely to die they had a stroke compared with patients who had not suffered infections.
Researchers suggested that the infections may cause inflammation, which has recently been found to be linked to heart disease.
Lead author Dr Paul Carter said: “‘The data illustrate a clear association between infections and life-threatening heart conditions and strokes, and the figures are too huge to ignore.
“Serious infections are amongst the biggest causes of death in the UK directly, but our research shows infections that are severe enough to lead to hospitalisation may present a delayed risk in the form of these atherosclerotic diseases.
“The sheer number of people who could be affected presents a challenge that needs further investigation,” said Dr Carter, a researcher at Aston’s ACALM unit and academic clinical fellow at Cambridge University.
The findings are due to be presented at the he American College of Cardiology conference in Orlando.
ACALM founder and cardiologist Dr Rahul Potluri, said: “Our figures suggest that those who are admitted to hospital with a respiratory or urinary tract infection are 40 per cent more likely to suffer a subsequent heart attack, and 2.5 times more likely to have a stroke, than patients who have had no such infection – and are considerably less likely to survive from these conditions.”
The team was studying whether patients who had been admitted for respiratory and urinary tract infections were at increased risk of events such as heart attacks and strokes caused by atherosclerosis - the build-up of plaque in artery walls.
The role of inflammation in this process has recently received a great deal of scientific attention, since research last year showed that anti-inflammatory therapies can reduce the risk of having a heart attack.
However, very little is known about the role of infection in the process.
Dr Potluri said: “It is notable that infection appears to confer as much, if not more, of a risk for future heart disease and stroke as very well established risk factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
“Although inflammation has been linked to atherosclerosis, this is the largest study to show that common infection is such a significant risk factor.”