The Flu Shot May Help Prevent Heart Disease

New research says the vaccine does more than just prevent the flu virus.

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If you haven’t yet received the flu shot, surprising new research may finally convince you to get one.

Results from the study, the first of its kind, suggest that the influenza vaccine prevents more than just the flu. It can also protect against heart disease and stroke.

To test the relationship between flu vaccinations and prevention of cardiovascular events, researchers analyzed various clinical trials involving a total of 6,735 male and female patients, 36 percent of whom had a history of heart problems.

Through their meta-analysis, researchers determined that patients who received the flu vaccine experienced a 37 percent risk reduction of major cardiovascular events compared with those who received a placebo. Even more, among those who had experienced a heart attack within the past year, the flu vaccine reduced the risk of major heart problems by 50 percent.

Researchers determined that high-risk patients will receive the most benefits from cardiac protection when they receive the flu vaccine over those who are stable or heart-healthy.

The results are noteworthy in that one “simple inoculation” could provide yearlong protection against major heart problems, researchers wrote, especially in a country where heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Currently, less than a third of the US general population and less than half of high-risk patients receive the flu shot each year.

The full study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.