Have you put off getting your annual flu shot this year?
For the first time in a long time I actually got a flu shot about a month ago. And since my wife is a Pharmacist it made it easier than ever, since all I had to do is show up at Rite Aid during when she was working and get it taken care of in five minutes.
No, I didn’t get any special treatment or anything.
However, is was a painless way to avoid getting the flu, which I got every year for the past five years since our kids started school.
Flu shots and heart health?
So needless to say I was happily surprised that there are other reasons for getting the flu shot than to prevent getting sick during the fast-approaching holiday season.
Turns out a recent study has discovered a link between yearly flu shots and the prevention of strokes and heart attacks.
Turns out the flu shot may reduce heart attack and stroke risk in people who are at risk.
The study, recently published in JAMA, links getting a flu vaccination with a lower risk of serious cardiovascular events, including heart failure or heart attack. Additionally, patients who have experienced recent acute coronary syndrome see the greatest benefit. In fact, the authors of the study noted that previous research suggested a “strong inverse relationship” between the flu vaccine and the risk of cardiovascular events.
Why is the flu vaccine so beneficial?
The authors point out that “among nontraditional cardiovascular risk factor 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.”
In other words, difficulty breathing due to a flu or respiratory tract infection puts additional strain on your heart. So preventing these additional risk factors can help to prevent another coronary event.
And as Dr. Jack Hauser of HeartCare Associates, a cardiology clinic with multiple locations in the greater New Haven area, points out “prevention is the best medicine.”
So can getting the flu shot reduce your chance for a heart attack or stroke?
The data seems to suggest that it can. In fact, of the people in the study who received the flu shot only 10.3% experienced adverse cardiovascular events, compared with 23.1% from the placebo group. According to researches, this “low-cost, safe easily administered and well-tolerated therapy to reduce cardiovascular risk beyond current therapies is warranted.”
In other words, it’s a relatively easy and painless way to help prevent strokes and heart attacks for people who are at risk for having one or another of these events.
What’s more, now that you can receive your annual flu shot at a local pharmacy (just like I did this year) without an appointment or waiting at your doctor’s office needlessly for hours on end, why wouldn’t you get the flu shot.