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After a year-and-a-half of worrying about COVID-19, it might almost be a relief to catch a summer cold!
But let’s keep things in perspective — summer colds are no fun.
The cold you catch now will probably last longer than the one you caught during the winter. It can also lead to more serious respiratory ailments like pneumonia.
If you already have risk factors for heart disease, things like hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes, a case of pneumonia will increase the stress on your heart even further and can lead to some serious heart health complications.
Luckily, scientists have recently found a simple way to reduce the likelihood that a case of pneumonia will become a heart attack or stroke.
Aspirin lowers heart attack risk following pneumonia
Dr. Fergus Hamilton and his colleagues at the University of Bristol used data from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD), a database of more than 61 million patients in the United Kingdom.
They focused on data from patients who were over age fifty and were treated for pneumonia. Within this group, they found 8,099 aspirin users and 8,099 non-aspirin users.
Upon analyzing the data, they found that the, among aspirin users, risk of having both a stroke and heart attack was 36 percent lower, and the risk of having a stroke on its own was 30 percent lower.
The chance of suffering a heart attack was 54 percent lower among aspirin users.
Dr. Ferguson and his team think that, based on their findings, doctors may end up offering aspirin to all their pneumonia patients as a standard method for preventing heart attacks and strokes.
A similar link exists between the flu and heart attacks and, as with the pneumonia-heart attack connection, it’s more common than you might think.
A CDC study looked at more than 80,000 patients hospitalized with the flu over eight seasons and found that sudden, serious heart complications occurred in 12 percent of patients (about one in every eight patients).
Influenza is also a common cause of pneumonia. With the world opening back up and people interacting more, you can be sure we’ll see more people come down with the flu than we’ve seen in over a year.
So how do you protect yourself from the respiratory ailments that could weaken your heart?
You could start by taking a daily aspirin, although you should check with your doctor first.
The American Lung Association has some advice for preventing pneumonia.
Get a flu shot every year.
Over 65? Get a pneumonia vaccine. There are two types of pneumococcal vaccine. Talk to your doctor to find out which is right for you.
Consider other vaccines. Talk to your doctor about whether you should have a vaccine to prevent other bacterial and viral conditions that lead to pneumonia, including pertussis (whooping cough).
Wash your hands frequently, especially after blowing your nose or using the bathroom, and before eating or preparing foods.
Don’t smoke. Tobacco damages your lungs’ ability to fight off infection. Smokers are considered a high-risk group for pneumonia.
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Pneumonia Can Increase Danger to the Heart — Samaritan Health Services
Study confirms link between influenza, heart complications — Eureka Alert