How the common cold could kill you

Happy Memorial Day.

I know this day has become a celebration of summer, but be sure to take a moment to remember what it's really all about and say a prayer for those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of freedom.

Later today, when you're kicking back on the beach, lighting the grill or just relaxing in your own backyard, I'm sure cold and flu season will be the farthest things from your mind.

Just don't get too complacent about it.

Some of those nasty viruses don't care that it's just about summer. They're out there all year long -- and if you pick one up yourself, new research shows how you could end up battling more than a few days of sniffling and sneezing.

You could be fighting for your life after a heart attack!

In the week after a major infection such as flu, pneumonia, or bronchitis, your risk of a heart attack jumps by 17 times.

That's not a typo. Seventeen times!

Milder infections such as the cold or sinusitis have a lower risk, but not by much. In the week after you've recovered from those "common" bugs, you'll face an uncommon heart attack risk: It's 13 times higher!

The risk drops after that first week, but it remains high for a full month after that infection passes.

It might sound unlikely, but there are other connections that would support this. For example, in winter -- at the heart of cold and flu season -- the risk of a heart attack also rises.

There could be a number of reasons for this, from the toll these illnesses take on the immune system to the toxins in your blood from the infection to the body-wide inflammation that can strike when you're sick.

The researchers behind the study also say your blood may be more likely to clot during a respiratory infection.

If you're generally healthy, maybe those factors won't matter much.

But if you're already suffering from heart problems, any one of those factors could end up triggering a heart attack.

Obviously, you want to take every illness -- even a minor cold -- seriously and get the rest you need for a full recovery. And of course, make sure your body has the nutrients it needs to fight the infection, cut inflammation, boost the immune system and protect your heart.

Vitamin D, fish oil, echinacea, and N-acetylcysteine can all help prevent respiratory infections and cut the severity and duration of the illnesses when they strike.

And when it comes to the common cold, there's one more remedy you should have on hand.

I'll have more on that coming up later today.

Keep an eye on your email!