A Simple Cold Could Increase Your Risk Of Heart Attack, Scientists Say

It's easy to mistake a summertime cold for allergies. Everything has bloomed, the weather has changed, so it's easy to simply write off your symptoms as seasonal illness.

Don't. It could mean something far worse.

Summertime colds last longer, and if you catch one, scientists have found that you're likely going to get sick again in winter. The viruses that cause upper respiratory infections in winter are usually contracted because of exposure to the enterovirus found in the warmer months of summer.

But the news gets worse, according to a new study.

Scientists at the University of Sydney found that their 500 test subjects -- all of whom had mild upper respiratory infections -- also saw a 13-fold increase in the risk of a heart attack.

The possible reasons behind the increased risk of heart attacks include blood clotting, inflammation and the damaging of blood vessels by toxins introduced to the body during what feels to be a common cold.

"The data showed that the increased risk of a heart attack isn't necessarily just at the beginning of respiratory symptoms, it peaks in the first 7 days and gradually reduces but remains elevated for one month," said Geoffrey Tofler, professor and lead cardiologist at the Royal North Shore Hospital and Heart Research Australia.

So this summer if you're experiencing coughing and sneezing that develops into a lasting sore throat and is accompanied by headaches and a low-grade fever, see your doctor.

There are ways to prevent getting sick this summer

Avoid prolonged use of air conditioning. It will dry out your mucus lining which will trap the enterovirus if you come in contact with it.

If you plan on traveling or being in any confined spaces for long periods of time this summer, make sure to bring travel-size hand sanitizer with you and avoid contact with individuals experiencing a cough.

If you feel any symptoms developing, make sure you rest. Exercising will prevent your body from being able to fight off sickness.

If you take all available precautions but still seem to contract the enterovirus this summer, drink lots of fluids and relax. Also remember to take extra good care of yourself for the rest of the year, as your chances of contracting the rhinovirus in winter will be higher, and as a result, the probability of experiencing a heart attack will be greater.