Investigators of a new study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association discovered another reason that some people may benefit from getting the flu shot. The study found that getting an annual flu vaccine puts the person at lower risk of having a heart attack, stroke, heart failure, or death from a heart-related event. The study used a meta-analysis– which means it used statistical methods to compile data across multiple studies in order to draw a conclusion based on a larger pool of data. The authors reviewed 6 randomized control trials with a total of 6,735 participants to determine whether there was an association between flu vaccine and cardiovascular events.
They found that the folks who got an influenza vaccine were about 50% less likely to develop a bad cardiovascular event within one year of getting a flu shot compared with patients who were treated with a placebo or control. They also found that influenza vaccination reduced the risk of cardiovascular events even more for patients with recent acute coronary syndrome (like a heart attack).
There are multiple theories about why flu vaccination can reduce the risk of cardiac events. Basically, when you get sick from the flu, you have a harder time breathing, your blood pressure can drop, and you can get secondary infections like pneumonia. All of these things make your heart work harder, which can cause a cardiac event-especially if you’ve recently had a heart attack. Bottom line… get the flu shot. It could protect you from more than just the flu.