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Study: Flu Shot Halves Risk of Heart Attack, Stroke in People With History of Heart Attack

Further research under way (October 22)

The influenza vaccine may not only ward off serious complications from the flu, it may also reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke by more than 50% among those who have had a heart attack, according to new research from Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, Canada.

Published in JAMA, the report reviewed six clinical studies of heart health in people who received the flu vaccine. The studies included more than 6,700 patients with a history of heart disease. The researchers found that people who received the flu shot:

  • Had a 36% lower risk of a major cardiac event (heart attack, stroke, heart failure, or death from cardiac-related causes) 1 year later
  • Had a 55% lower risk of a major cardiac event if they had a recent heart attack
  • Were less likely to die from cardiac-related and other causes
  • Were less likely to have a major cardiac event with a more potent vaccine compared with the standard seasonal vaccine

“If the flu vaccine can reduce the risk of cardiac events, these shots could have considerable impact on cardiac health,” said lead investigator Dr. Jacob Udell. However, the researchers caution that a large prospective clinical trial is necessary to confirm the effectiveness and safety of the influenza vaccine as a therapy that will reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke in people with heart disease. The researchers are now organizing this type of clinical trial to follow heart disease patients for up to 12 months after receiving the flu shot.

Source: EurekAlert; October 22, 2013.

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