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11
JAN

Snowballing Sicknesses

Filed Under: Sexual Health at 9:17 am | By: Susan Coyle, Senior Editor
Sick in BedYou’ve just spent a week plagued by the flu. You are about to reenter the world, having conquered the fatigue, aches, nausea, coughing and fever that accompany the illness. You are thrilled to leave your bed, which despite a thorough cleaning, still looks to you like nothing more than a mass of evil bacteria. You are anxious to converse with others without the subsequent looks of horror as you despairingly hack and sneeze. You are ready for a return to life, armed with a robust vigor and élan you haven’t felt for days. What more could you want?

How about a heart attack?

A severe respiratory infection such as the flu, pneumonia or bronchitis more than doubles your risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the week that follows.  It’s not clear why this occurs, only that it does and that a percentage of all cardiovascular problems are the direct result of infections every year. Therefore, if you want to prevent a heart attack or stroke, your steps should, during cold and flu season, begin with preventing respiratory infections.

Start with the flu shot. There is a reason they are recommended for heart patients. Then, block the germs with proper hygiene. Regularly washing your hands will effectively ward off infections, even when antiviral drugs seem to fail.  To really stay clean, sing the Happy Birthday song as you lather and rinse. That’s the advised amount of time hand-washing should take. If soap and water are unavailable, rely on the alcohol-based hand wipes and gel sanitizers you’ve started keeping in your bag, at your desk and in your car. When you sneeze or cough, do so into a tissue, which should be immediately thrown away. Using a used Kleenex is very much like attempting to clean anything with a sheet of bacteria: ineffective. Finally, nag those around into maintaining healthy habits. Tell them it’s out of concern for their wellbeing. They’ll never know your trying to prevent your own illness. If it works, you’ll be flu-free and heart-safe.

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