Flu in the Workplace and the Heart Attack Connection

Source: Andrij Popov - 123RF

Each year, between 5% and 20% of Americans get the flu and miss a staggering 70 million work days as a result.

The indirect costs to business are estimated to be between $3 billion and $12 billion a year.

Colds and the flu share a few symptoms. Both are caused by viruses that invade the upper airways. But colds are milder. Fever, body aches, dry cough, and being very tired are more likely to be the flu.

According to a study by Dr. Jeff Kwong, an epidemiologist and family physician with the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and Public Health Ontario in Canada. published in the New England Journal of Medicine,  you are six times more likely to have a heart attack during the week after being diagnosed with influenza, compared to the year before or after the infection.”

The study shows the hypothesis that influenza may trigger acute cardiovascular events and death was advanced as early as the 1930s, when the association between seasonal influenza activity and cardiovascular mortality was first noted.

Several case-control and self-controlled studies have since shown an association between visits to physicians’ offices for acute respiratory infections or influenza-like illnesses and subsequent acute cardiovascular events.

The flu vaccine does not always prevent an infection from a flu virus. Some years, the shot offers more protection than others. But, flu trackers say, some protection against the virus is better than none.

Infectious disease specialists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say it’s not too late to get a flu shot this season. There’s a lot of flu in the U.S. right now, and the rate of hospitalizations is still increasing.

The CDC advises people who do get sick with flu-like symptoms to stay home. Don’t go to work if you are sick. The risk of infecting colleagues, as the new study shows, can go way beyond making them feel ill.