The flu vaccine could help reduce risk for heart attack by nearly 30%, according to a study recently published in the British medical journal Heart.
There’s no question that the flu weakens the body, making us more susceptible to certain health complications. Many studies have found that the flu increases heart attack risk, especially in patients already living with heart disease.
That’s why it’s recommended that vulnerable populations like the elderly and patients with chronic disease get vaccinated each year. Not only can the vaccine help protect against the flu, it reduces hospitalizations and complications in patients that contract the flu. But experts wonder if the flu vaccine helps reduce risk of complications like heart attack in all types of patients, including those with and without heart disease.
To learn more, researchers reviewed 16 past studies on the flu and heart health. Studies were published in peer-reviewed journals and conducted in a number of countries, such as the United States, England, China and Australia.
After analysis, researchers found that the flu doubled risk of heart attack in adults. However, the flu vaccine reduced risk of heart attack by 29%. As authors explain, this risk reduction is similar to or even better than well-established preventive treatments like cholesterol-lowering drugs and quitting smoking.
Based on findings, authors encourage a large, well designed study on the impact of the flu vaccine on heart attack risk. This study suggests the flu vaccine may significantly reduce heart attack risk, even in patients without known heart disease. Additional research is needed to better understand the impact of the flu vaccine on cardiovascular risk and who should get the flu vaccine to help prevent heart attack.
Heart attack is a leading cause of death and disability around the globe. In the United States, more than 735,000 individuals have a heart attack each year. While it’s already recommended that adults with heart disease get the flu vaccine, it’s possible that adults without heart disease may also benefit from the vaccine. The more we know about reducing cardiovascular risk, the more we can do to help prevent life-threatening heart attacks in patients with and without heart disease.