A heart attack is a serious condition that happens when the blood supply to the heart muscle is cut off, usually by a clot in a blood vessel. This can harm or kill part of the heart muscle and cause life-threatening problems.
Some people may have a higher chance of having a heart attack after an infection, such as covid, pneumonia, viral infection, flu or bronchitis. This can happen even if they have mild symptoms or no heart problems before.
How does an infection raise the chance of a heart attack?
There are several possible ways that an infection can cause a heart attack. Some of them are:
Inflammation: An infection makes the body produce substances that can hurt the lining of the blood vessels and make them more likely to have plaque buildup and break. This can lead to a clot that blocks the blood supply to the heart.
Clotting: An infection can also make the blood cells that are involved in clotting more active. This can make the blood thicker and more likely to form clots that can travel to the heart or other organs.
Autoimmunity: An infection can sometimes make an abnormal immune response that attacks the body’s own tissues, including the heart. This can cause inflammation and harm to the heart muscle or the layer that surrounds it.
What are the signs of a heart attack?
A heart attack is a medical emergency that needs immediate attention. Some of the common signs and symptoms of a heart attack are:
Chest pain or discomfort that may feel like pressure, squeezing, tightness or fullness
Pain or discomfort that spreads to the arms, neck, jaw, back or stomach
Trouble breathing or catching your breath
Feeling sick, throwing up, having stomach problems or belly pain
Sweating, feeling cold or clammy
Feeling dizzy, lightheaded or passing out
Feeling your heart beat fast, irregularly or strongly
Feeling anxious, scared or a sense of doom
Not everyone feels the same symptoms or the same intensity of symptoms. Some people may have mild or no symptoms at all, especially women, older adults and people with diabetes. Therefore, it is important to get medical help as soon as possible if you think you or someone else is having a heart attack.
How can you prevent a post infectious heart attack?
The best way to prevent a post infectious heart attack is to prevent or treat the infection itself. Some of the preventive steps include:
Practicing good hygiene habits such as washing your hands often, covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and staying away from sick people
Taking antibiotics or antiviral medicines as told by your doctor if you have an infection
Following your doctor’s advice on managing your long-term conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or kidney disease
Taking aspirin or other medicines that prevent clotting as told by your doctor if you have a history of heart problems or are at high risk of a heart attack
Getting medical attention quickly if you have any signs or symptoms of an infection or a heart attack
A post infectious heart attack is a serious problem that can affect anyone who has had an infection. By being aware of the risk factors, signs and symptoms and preventive steps, you can lower your chances of having this life-threatening condition and improve your recovery and quality of life.
Dr. Karuturi Subrahmanyam, MD, FRCP (London), FACP (USA)
Internal Medicine Specialist
Phone : 85000 23456