Flu shot can reduce risk of cardiovascular event
If you haven’t gotten your flu shot yet, here’s another reason you should consider heading out to the doctor’s office or the nearest pharmacy. According to a meta-analysis conducted by researchers at the University of Toronto and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, getting the flu vaccine may be associated with a reduced risk of major adverse cardiovascular events in patients at high risk for heart disease.
Dr. Jacob Udell and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of five randomized trials including a total of about 6700 subjects, of which about 36 percent were at high risk for heart disease. The trials correlated cardiovascular disease outcomes with influenza vaccination versus an inactive placebo shot or no treatment at all.
Outcomes assessed included sudden death, hospitalization for heart failure, myocardial infarction (heart attack), unstable angina, stroke or urgent coronary revascularization. They found that getting the flu vaccine was associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular events during a one year follow-up: Event rate among those who got the flu vaccine was 2.9 percent compared to 4.7 percent in those who had not gotten the vaccine, a highly-significant 38 percent reduction.
Researchers acknowledged that there were some limitations of the study, including that meta-analyses cannot prove causation, but they add, “Influenza vaccination … represents a simple once-annual protective therapy to reduce cardiovascular events. This finding has considerable clinical and health policy importance, given the profound under-use of vaccination among the general public and the potential impact this preventive strategy may have on high-risk patients.”