We held a survey on our site, Lifelong Health about immunizations, and most of us answered we were going to get a flu shot. This study is another reason to be glad you have gotten a flu shot, or convince you to go get one. Thiis study shows the flu shot may help to prevent heart disease or stroke.
A number of studies have shown a link between heart attacks and a prior bout with the flu. Those who got the flu shot were 50 percent less likely to suffer major cardiac events (such as heart attacks or strokes) and 40 percent less likely to die of cardiac causes. Similar trends were found in patients with and without previous heart disease. The findings suggest “that flu vaccine is a heart vaccine,” lead study author Jacob Udell told Fox News.
A 2010 study of about 78,000 patients age 40 or older found that those who had gotten a flu shot in the previous year were 20 percent less likely to suffer a first heart attack, even when such cardiovascular risks as smoking, high cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes were taken in account.
Scarier still, researchers report that up to 91,000 Americans a year die from heart attacks and strokes triggered by flu. This grim statistic prompted the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology to issue guidelines recommending vaccination for patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD). The CDC advises flu shots for everyone over six months of age, but cautions that certain people should check with a medical provider before being immunized.
Sadly, fewer than half of Americans with high-risk conditions like heart disease get the shot, leaving themselves dangerously unprotected against both flu complications and cardiovascular events. In fact, the CDC actually uses heart attack rates to track seasonal flu outbreaks, says Dr. Bale. “They look for areas with a sudden surge in heart attacks and send a team to investigate, because the cause is almost always a spike in flu cases.”
If you’re tempted to skip your flu shot, consider this: Getting vaccinated cuts risk for a heart attack or stroke by up to 50 percent, according to two studies presented at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress. Scientists from TIMU Study Group and Network for Innovation in Clinical Research analyzed published clinical trials involving a total of 3,227 patients, half of whom had been diagnosed with heart disease. Participants, whose average age was 60, were randomly assigned to either receive flu vaccine or a placebo shot, then their health was tracked for 12 months.
Those who got the flu shot were 50 percent less likely to suffer major cardiac events (such as heart attacks or strokes) and 40 percent less likely to die of cardiac causes. Similar trends were found in patients with and without previous heart disease. The findings suggest “that flu vaccine is a heart vaccine,” lead study author Jacob Udell told Fox News.
More about Flu Vaccine: Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently. Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others. Over a period of 31 seasons between 1976 and 2007, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people. During a regular flu season, about 90 percent of deaths occur in people 65 years and older. The “seasonal flu season” in the United States can begin as early as October and last as late as May.
During this time, flu viruses are circulating in the population. An annual seasonal flu vaccine (either the flu shot or the nasal-spray flu vaccine) is the best way to reduce the chances that you will get seasonal flu and lessen the chance that you will spread it to others. When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through that community.