Flu vaccine may reduce heart disease risk

Oct. 31, 2012 at 11:25 PM

TORONTO, Oct. 31 (UPI) -- A Canadian research team said they found a flu shot reduced the risk of a major cardiac event such as a heart attack by 50 percent.

Study leader Dr. Jacob Udell, a cardiologist at Women's College Hospital and the University of Toronto, and colleagues analyzed clinical trials dating back to the 1960s involving 3,227 patients -- half of the patients were diagnosed with heart disease and half had no heart disease, Medical News Today reported.

Half of the participants were randomly chosen to have a flu vaccine and those that did not, generally received a placebo vaccine.

The researchers found a 50 percent decrease in the risk of a major cardiac happening such as stroke, heart attack, or cardiac death after being compared with placebo after one year of follow-up. Similarly, those who received the flu vaccine had a 40 percent decrease in death from any cause.

Udell said the findings confirm the current guideline recommendations for flu vaccination of people with a prior heart attack, but for more reasons than just decreasing flu risk.

Despite the promising results of a reduction in non-fatal cardiac events, Udell recommended a larger, longer, multi-national study that could thoroughly show the vaccine's effectiveness to decrease fatal cardiac events.

The findings were presented at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress in Toronto.

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