Flu Season Linked To Increase in Acute Aortic Dissection

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Harleen Sandhu, MD MPH
Senior Researcher
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Sandhu: Previous studies have shown a correlation between seasonal variations and occurrence of acute aortic dissection, however, reasons for such associations are unknown. Seasonal flu activity has been associated with the occurrence of cardiovascular diseases such as acute myocardial infarction in the past. This led us to verify this seasonal correlation in our experience with acute aortic dissection patients and to further investigate if its incidence was associated with flu activity. Our results confirmed the seasonal variation in acute aortic dissection as well as demonstrated a positive correlation with seasonal flu activity.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Sandhu: Our study was designed to demonstrate a correlation between acute aortic dissection incidence and flu activity, if any, however currently we do not fully understand this association and further research is needed. Given this limitation, we cannot make strong recommendations at the present time. However, people with a family history of aortic dissection or connective tissue disorders such as Marfan syndrome should discuss flu shots with their physicians. Additionally, clinicians should adopt a high index of suspicion for acute aortic dissection in patients who present with usual signs and symptoms indicative of aortic dissection especially during the months of November – March and when the flu activity is high.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Sandhu: The current study demonstrated a correlation between the incidences of acute aortic dissection and flu but was not designed to analyze the pathophysiology of this association. However, our results indicate that further mechanistic studies are required to elucidate the causative pathways underlying this association. At this stage we can only speculate that the flu creates an inflammatory reaction that could theoretically increase chances of dissection in susceptible individuals; however, this theory needs to be verified. Furthermore, the utilization and effects of flu vaccination needs to be examined as well.

AHA 14 abstract discussing:

High hospital admissions for acute aortic dissection coincide with peak flu season