Flu vaccine cuts risk of heart attack for some patients
People who had a recent heart attack who got the flu shot had a 55% lower risk of having a major cardiac event.
Getting a flu shot cuts the risk of having a heart attack or stroke by more than 50% in people who have had a heart attack, a new study shows.
"We may have identified that the flu vaccine may also be a vaccine against heart attacks," says lead author Jacob Udell, a cardiologist at Women's College Hospital and a scientist at the University of Toronto.
Udell and colleagues analyzed six studies on the heart health of more than 6,700 men and women, average age 67. Half got a flu vaccine; half got a placebo shot or nothing. About a third had heart disease and the rest had risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and smoking.
People who had had a recent heart attack who got the flu shot had a 55% lower risk of having a major cardiac event, such as a heart attack, stroke, heart failure or dying from another cardiac cause, Udell says. "The highest-risk patient got the highest reward for getting the flu shot."
Other findings, out Tuesday in JAMA, a journal of the American Medical Association, showed that people with a history of heart disease who had a flu shot:
• Had an overall 36% reduced risk of a major cardiac event, such as heart attack, stroke, heart failure or death from cardiac-related causes, one year later.
• Were less likely to die from cardiac-related or other causes. Most deaths were from cardiac causes, Udell says.
• Were 30% less likely to have a major cardiac event with a more potent vaccine compared with a typical seasonal vaccine. The stronger vaccine or a booster shot offered more protection, he says.
Amazing. I've not had a heart attack or been diagnosed with heart disease, but I like to get a flu shot anyway. This is one more possible benefit. I'll talk to my wife tonight about scheduling one. See if I can convince her to get one this year too. I wonder if the "stronger vaccine" mentioned above is available? I've never been offered a choice before between a stronger vaccine or a weaker one.