Flu Shot May Protect Against Heart Attacks, Study Finds

The flu shot is a great way to protect against influenza. It may also be the next big drug capable of lessening the chances of a heart attack, according to a new Canadian study.

According to new research, people who receive the flu vaccine are 50 percent less likely to have a stroke or suffer from a heart attack. The study also found that those who did suffer from a heart attack were 40 percent less likely to die compared to unvaccinated heart attack patients.

Findings were presented at a cardiovascular disease research meeting on Sunday, and researchers told their colleagues that flu vaccinations could be the future for fighting off heart attack and stroke.

Dr. Jacob Udell, a cardiologist at Women’s College Hospital and the University of Toronto, and colleagues examined four previous studies which included more than 3,000 patients. Participants in each study were assigned randomly to receive a flu vaccination, no flu vaccine, or a placebo flu vaccination. Most patients were over 30 years old while the average age of patients was 60.

The group writes of its findings:

“Perhaps that the flu vaccine is a heart vaccine.”

The study found that, regardless of heart disease history, patients who received the flu vaccine were far less likely to suffer from a heart attack or die when a heart attack struck.

The group must conduct more research to determine why the flu vaccine appears to help heart attack victims. In the meantime, Dr. Udell predicts that the vaccine prevents factors that “tips them over the edge” such as plaque clogging arteries or lower levels of oxygen as a result of the flu.