by UNTV News | Posted on Thursday, January 25th, 2018
FILE PHOTO: A mother and her son wear protective masks in Mexico City April 28, 2009. REUTERS/Daniel Aguilar
(Reuters Health) – Influenza is already known to be deadly, but a new study suggests that the risk of heart attack is six times greater than normal while people are ill with the flu.
“I was a little bit surprised by the strength of the association. It’s not every day you see a six-fold increase in the risk during the first seven days of lab-confirmed influenza,” chief author Dr. Jeffrey Kwong told Reuters Health in a telephone interview. “We were also surprised the risk dropped off to nothing by day 8 and beyond.”
He and his Canadian team also found that other respiratory diseases can also increase the chance of a heart attack, but not as nearly as dramatically.
The group, reporting in The New England Journal of Medicine, did not examine whether flu-associated heart attacks are deadlier.
The new study reinforces the importance of the flu vaccine and protective measures such as regular hand washing to guard against influenza and other infections, said Dr. Kwong, a scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Toronto.
Doctors have suspected a link between flu and heart attacks since the 1930s, but in that era it was hard to know if the influenza virus or a flu-like illness had made a patient sick prior to the heart attack.
Kwong and his colleagues used confirmed cases of flu, analyzing 364 heart attacks from mid-2008 through mid-2015 among Ontario residents age 35 or older who were registered with the province’s publicly funded health insurance program.
The heart attack rate was 20.0 admissions per week during the seven days after diagnosis of the flu, versus 3.3 per week during the 52 weeks before and 51 weeks after that seven-day window.
The risk dropped off dramatically by the eighth day after diagnosis.
Dr. Erica Jones, director of the HeartHealth Program at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian Hospital, who was not connected with the study, said the results aren’t surprising based on her experience with hospitalized heart attack patients.
“This time of year we frequently had people on the floor after the flu,” she told Reuters Health by phone. “It was often associated with pneumonia.”
The flu “is a stressor to the system. It can increase inflammation. When you get an infection your heart is beating faster. It can activate platelets, increasing the chance that blood clots will form in the arteries that serve the heart. All of these can increase the chance of having a heart attack,” Dr. Kwong said.
Among the 332 people in the study who developed at least one heart attack while recovering from the flu, 69 percent had not received a flu shot. For 76 percent, it was their first heart attack, technically known as an acute myocardial infarction.
The heart attack risk increased slightly for adults over 65 and for people infected with influenza type B. But those increases were not statistically significant. The risk was 10 times higher with influenza B, five times higher with influenza A (the most common type during that period), 3.5 times greater for respiratory syncytial virus and nearly three times higher for other viruses.
The study “should not be interpreted as evidence of a lack of vaccine effectiveness, because this study was not designed to evaluate the effectiveness of influenza vaccines,” the researchers said. “Rather, since vaccination of adults is only approximately 40% to 60% effective in preventing laboratory-confirmed influenza infection, this study shows that if vaccinated patients have influenza of sufficient severity to warrant testing, their risk of acute myocardial infarction is increased to a level that is similar to that among unvaccinated patients.”
“We can’t say it enough – get a flu shot,” said Dr. Jones. “Even if the flu shot isn’t perfect, it may protect at least somewhat and the flu could be less severe, although this study didn’t address that. Also, wash your hands all the time and stay away from people who you know are sick.”
And if you get the flu, “don’t ignore symptoms” that might suggest a heart attack, she said. “Chest pains, shortness of breath might be more than you think.”
The time it takes for the flu to produce symptoms is about 1.4 days after infection with influenza A and 0.6 days with influenza B. Once symptoms begin, it only takes a day or two for them to peak.
The researchers cautioned that the people in their study were not suffering from mild flu symptoms.
“These are people who are sick enough to see a doctor and the doctor was worried enough to actually swab the patient” to test for the virus, said Dr. Kwong. “We don’t know if these results apply to people who have milder infections.”
SOURCE: bit.ly/2FU4ylA The New England Journal of Medicine, online January 24, 2018.
by Marje Pelayo | Posted on Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019
MANILA, Philippines – Influenza is among the rainy-day diseases that highly threatens people’s health around the world, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Unlike the common cough and colds, influenza or ‘flu’ is most of the time accompanied by muscle pains and fever that lasts for several days.
According to the Department of Health (DOH), a new strain of flu virus develops every year that’s why it is important to also develop an appropriate vaccine.
Likewise, a yearly vaccination against flu is highly necessary to prevent it.
“Iyong advice natin sa ating mga kababayan, iyong mga kailangan mabakunahan, pabakunahan pa habang maaga para protektado sila lalo na kapag time na madami nang flu, (We advise the public to vaccinate especially those who need the vaccine to keep protected during flu season,)” explained Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo.
The DOH noted that flu season usually begins from September and lasts until February.
The agency emphasized, however, that it prioritizes children and senior citizens in its vaccination programs.
Domingo said a new strain of flu virus has been discovered this year in the country though it is weaker as compared to a strong flu virus recorded in 2017.
In fact, the mortality rate and complication rate brought about by the current flu virus remains low.
Still, the DOH advised the public to undergo a regular health checkup because flu infection might lead to complications that can become fatal.
Parents are advised to complete their children’s flu vaccination shots and avail them for free in hospitals and barangay health stations.
“Ang number 1 pa rin natin kasi kung magkakaroon ng complication sa flu iyong mayroong mahihina ang katawan, meaning iyong mga batang- bata at tiyak iyong matatanda, (Our number one concern is the complications of flu in patients with weak immune system, meaning the children and the elderly),” Domingo said.
The health official also recommends a healthy diet to boost the immune system and have a regular take of vitamin C, orange juice, and six to eight glasses of water every day.
If possible, sleep for up to eight hours and exercise regularly.
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
It will also help to wear face masks especially when going in crowded places or when travelling so as not to contract the flu virus. – with details from Aiko Miguel
by Robie de Guzman | Posted on Monday, July 1st, 2019
MANILA, Philippines – Rainy seasonhas officially started in the country.
But apart from preparing and bringing umbrella, coats, boots and other rain gears, the public is urged anew to take simple health precautions to ward off diseases common at this time of the year.
Among the common illnesses during wet season are influenza, dengue fever and leptospirosis.
Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a highly contagious and year-round disease but usually peaks during the rainy season.
To prevent coming down with the flu, health authorities are encouraging the public to get a vaccine against the virus and to boost the immune system by having a healthy diet.
Frequent and proper handwashing can also be one’s defense against the flu virus.
During rainy season, a spike in the number of leptospirosis cases is also observed. Humans may contract leptospirosis through skin abrasions and the mucus of the nose, mouth and eyes when wading in flood waters contaminated with animal urine, particularly from rats.
To avoid getting leptospirosis, one should wear boots or cover open wounds or broken skin if wading through floodwaters is inevitable.
The public is also reminded to take precautions against dengue fever which usually peaks during the wet season.
Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral disease transmitted by female mosquitoes mainly of the species Aedes aegypti.
To prevent contracting dengue virus, the public is urged to take these safety precautions, including searching for and destroying the breeding sites of dengue-carrying mosquitoes, wearing long sleeved shirts, using insect repellants and seeking early medical attention for fevers.
Health authorities also strongly advises the public against self-medication, especially when dealing with antibiotic medicines, as it can lead to antimicrobial resistance.
The World Health Organization defines anti-microbial resistance as the ability of a microorganism to stop an anti-microbial medication from working against it.
The DOH advises the public to immediately seek proper medical advice if they are experiencing symptoms of any diseases. (with details from Aiko Miguel)
by Marje Pelayo | Posted on Thursday, January 31st, 2019
MANILA, Philippines – Influenza or flu is common nowadays as the northeast monsoon or amihan prolongs drop in temperature in the country.
Flu differs from common cough and cold since it is accompanied with high fever and muscle pain that last for days.
According to the Department of Health (DOH), flu season starts from the month of October to February.
But the DOH warns of the severe effects or complications that flu can cause to the human body which can be fatal if not immediately attended to.
“Binabantayan natin kung ano iyong strain at talagang by middle of the year nagbabakuna na tayo. Sa Pilipinas ang peak lang talaga ng flu-like illnesses itong panahon ng malamig,” explained Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo.
“Ang nakakatakot lang kasi na gusto nating ma- prevent iyong mga flu na nagkakaroon ng complication. Kasi maaari siyang mauwi sa pneumonia at of course maaaring in the end makamatay,” the health official warned.
In view of the possible outbreak, the DOH reminds the public to keep protected by strengthening the immune system.
Take vitamin C shots and more fluids like orange juice and six to eight glasses of water every day.
Sleep at least six to eight hours a day and make sure to exercise and eat fruits and vegetables.
Make it a habit to wear face mask especially when in crowded places or when travelling to avoid contracting flu virus.
Based on DOH records, flu cases in the country has declined this year as compared to the same period last year considering that the flu strain detected last year was stronger than those being monitored this year.
“Worrisome ang flu last year. Medyo matapang iyong flu last year hindi lang sa Pilipians kundi sa ibang bansa sa Amerika, sa Hong Kong. It was a virulent strain last year,” noted Domingo.
The World Health Organization (WHO) noted that the flu has become one of the severe health threats in the world this year.
The DOH advises parents to make sure their children get a complete set of vaccination to be well-protected.
Meanwhile, senior citizens may also avail of free flu shots in barangay health centers and DOH accredited hospitals. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Aiko Miguel)
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