Individuals suffering from urinary or respiratory tract infections may face nearly double the risk of heart attacks and strokes than obesity, warn researchers.
The study -- led by a researcher of Indian origin -- found that if the frequency of these common infections causing hospitalisation continues for a longer period it may even lead to death.
"Our figures suggest that those who are admitted to hospital with a respiratory or urinary tract infection are 40 per cent more likely to suffer a subsequent heart attack, and 2.5 times more likely to have a stroke, than patients who have had no such infection - and are considerably less likely to survive from these conditions," Rahul Potluri, researcher at Britain's Aston University, said in a statement.
"It is notable that infection appears to confer as much, if not more, of a risk for future heart disease and stroke as very well established risk factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes," Potluri added.
Researchers conducted the study over 34,027 patients who had been admitted with a urinary or respiratory tract infection with an age and sex-matched control group without infection.
Factors such as age, gender, ethnicity, obesity and tobacco use, as well as medical conditions including excess cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and kidney disease, heart failure and atrial fibrillation were also taken into account.