Flu season is already upon us and if avoiding the discomfort of this seasonal ailment is not enough to motivate you to get your flu shot, a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that getting a flu vaccine may actually lower your risk of having a cardiovascular event as well.
Researchers at the University of Toronto found that receiving an influenza vaccination was associated with a lower risk of major adverse cardiovascular events such as heart failure or hospitalization for heart attack. The greatest effect was seen among patients with recent acute coronary syndrome ( such as heart attack or unstable angina).
“Among nontraditional cardiovascular risk factors, there remains interest in a potential association between respiratory tract infections, of which influenza and influenza-like illnesses are common causes, and subsequent cardiovascular events,” according to background information in the article by Jacob A. Udell, M.D., M.P.H., F.R.C.P.C., and colleagues. Several epidemiological studies have also suggested a strong inverse relationship between influenza vaccination and the risk of fatal and nonfatal cardiovascular events.
The research studied patients with high cardiovascular risk, and found that influenza vaccination was associated with a lower risk of major adverse cardiovascular events within 1 year. Vaccination was particularly effective with cardiovascular prevention in patients with recent acute coronary syndrome. The data is compelling enough that the authors of the study believe it merits additional research .
“Future research to confirm the efficacy of this low-cost, annual, safe, easily administered, and well-tolerated therapy to reduce cardiovascular risk beyond current therapies is warranted,” the authors conclude.
The good news for everyone is that it has never been easier to get a seasonal flu shot. With convenient options provided by walk-in clinics, drive through events and other outlets, there is no excuse not to take advantage of this easy and effective preventative treatment. Not only will it keep away the flu, it may save your life.