By Dr. Mallika Marshall

BOSTON (CBS) — It’s bad enough to get the flu but could you also be at risk of suffering a heart attack while you’re sick?

Well, a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine finds a significant association between respiratory infections, especially the flu, and suffering a heart attack.

Researchers looked at hospitalizations for heart attack one year before and one year after a positive test for influenza.

They found that the risk of admission for acute heart attack was six times higher in the seven days after testing positive for the flu.

The risks were highest for older adults, those who had never had a heart attack, and people infected with influenza B, which typically causes a milder form of the flu.

The risk of heart attack was also higher with other viruses that cause cold and flu-like symptoms.

So if you’re sick with a respiratory illness and you develop symptoms of a heart attack like chest pressure, pain that radiates to your left arm or jaw, or shortness of breath, you need to an ER right away.

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