Can the Flu Shot Decrease Heart Attack and Stroke Risk?

Can the Flu Shot Decrease Heart Attack and Stroke Risk?

I’ve given you all reasons why you should get your flu shot this year (every year, really), but there are some additional reasons for why you should think about getting the flu shot. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) released a study recently that found people who got the flu shot decreased their risk of having a heart attack, stroke, or sudden cardiac death by almost 1/3rd! The LA Times reports,

36% reduced risk of a serious heart problem simply by getting a flu shot – something everyone over the age of 6 months should be doing anyway. Based on these figures, the researchers calculated that one death or serious illness due to heart trouble could be prevented by vaccinating 58 additional people.

So how and why does this happen?

flu_shot

Image: Gabriel Saldana via Flickr

When you get the flu, the body has a huge immune response which causes swelling and inflammation generally throughout the body, which is why you feel body aches, soreness, have headaches, etc.

On a vascular level, this inflammation can cause any plaques that may have formed -- from a build up of fats or other irritants -- to become unstable, and they can then get into the blood supply, travel, and cause a stroke or heart attack. Also, because you may have lung involvement, it is can be more difficult to breathe, and your oxygen stores might be a little lower than normal, which can put added stress on your heart, which can cause heart failure.

By preventing the immune response from the flu by getting the flu shot, you will be putting your body under less stress and reduce your risk. There was a study done of 6,700 people, in which about a third of them had some form of heart disease, and they found that of those people who got the flu vaccination, there was a 36% lower risk of having a cardiac event the following year AND if people had recently had a heart attack or stroke, their rates of having another event were found to be reduced even further.

Bottom Line: 

Any opportunity to reduce your risk of an immune response and major inflammation, will cause less stress to your heart and your vasculature, and decrease your risk of stroke and heart attack. Obviously getting a flu shot will not completely prevent your risk, but I think anything that will help to reduce the risk of stroke or heart attack is worthwhile. The study should be reproduced and be larger to prove its validity, but I truly encourage anyone with heart disease, post heart attack, or stroke to get the flu shot.  And, if you are worried or concerned, speak to your Healthcare Practitioner (HCP) about your risks!

- See more at: http://www.nursebridgid.com/2013/12/flu-shot-can-decrease-heart-attack-r...
Yours in Good Health
Nurse Bridgid
www.NurseBridgid.com

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