A new study revealed that people who have gotten cured of dengue and other infectious diseases during childhood are at more risk of early heart attack. Add that to an unhealthy lifestyle during adulthood and the risk elevates even higher, the study said.
Along with dengue, other infections that increase the risk for heart attack are measles, typhoid fever, bronchitis and chicken pox. Researchers say that these diseases might badly damage a person's vascular system and lead to atherosclerosis or the hardening of the arteries. Eventually, it would result to early heart attack.
In a study presented at the European Society of Cardiology, Dr. Andriany Qanitha from the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam, the Netherlands said that they conducted a case-control study based on population in Makassar, Indonesia. Most of the participants were male Indonesians whose average age was 47 years old.
For this study, severe infection was described as fever experienced for more than three days, or hospitalization because of an infection.
Firstly, the study was divided into two groups. Group one was comprised of 153 patients who have had a history of acute coronary syndrome (ACS) before turning 56 years old, while group two comprised of another 153 patients with no history of the disease.
Then, researchers surveyed each group and determined their history of infection through detailed questionnaires and interviews of family members. Participants and their family members were asked about the infections they suffered during early stages of life, such as infancy, pre-school, and elementary school to junior high school and senior high school. From the collected information, researchers calculated an infection score from 0 to 4, with 2 as the indicator for positive infection during early life.
Researchers gathered data from participants such as gender, age, educational level, monthly income, occupation, physical activity and dietary pattern to assess risk factors for cardiovascular diseases (CVD). The participants' family history of CVD, diabetes, hypertension, as well as their smoking habits were also examined. They found that the risk of early heart attack elevated with increasing CVD risk factors.
"Governments and policymakers should have a combined strategy for tackling infectious disease and cardiovascular disease. Early-life infection may be a relatively unknown contributing factor in ACS occurrence," Qanitha said.
However, one of the study's limitations is that the participants were all from Indonesia, and that living conditions in other countries are different. Qanitha said that despite the limitation, the study could still apply to other countries in Southeast Asia where the disease is prevalent.
In the United States, about 610,000 people die from heart attacks every year, according to the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention. Most risk factors for heart disease in the country include diabetes, poor diet, smoking habits, alcohol abuse, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, the CDC said.
Health officials say that the best way to prevent heart attack and other CDVs is by living a healthy lifestyle such as eating a healthy diet, exercising, limiting alcohol use, and avoiding smoking. A person should also consult their doctor for any further concerns about their health.