The Flu Vaccine May be Beneficial to Heart Health

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New research shows the flu shot may protect against more than just the flu. It can also ward off heart health issues.


There is an ever-standing debate about the efficacy and necessity of flu vaccinations. Recently, it was the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine. However, the debate about the flu vaccine has been a topic for much longer time. A recent meta-analysis study published in “Scientific Reports” has added a new layer to the discussion.

Beyond the conventional shield against influenza, the study, conducted by researchers from the University of Tehran, suggests a significant correlation between receiving the flu vaccine and a reduced risk of heart attacks and cardiovascular-related deaths.

The meta-analysis peered into the data of 9,059 patients, averaging 61.3 years in age, over approximately nine months. Half of the participants, 4,529 individuals, received the flu vaccine, while the remaining 4,530 were administered a placebo.

The striking outcome revealed a 26% decrease in the risk of heart attacks and a 33% decrease in deaths from cardiovascular diseases among those who received the flu vaccine.

The study’s findings underscore a noteworthy link between those who get the flu vaccine and its impact on cardiovascular events. The research, however, urges a deeper exploration of the underlying mechanisms, emphasizing the necessity for further studies to unravel the precise ways in which influenza vaccination influences the cardiovascular system in the long term.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

The researchers posit several theories to explain the unexpected connection between the flu vaccine and heart health. One theory suggests that the vaccine’s ability to reduce inflammation triggered by the flu contributes to the protective effect.

Additionally, preventing secondary infections and stabilizing atherosclerotic plaque, a phenomenon often compromised during a flu episode, are proposed as potential mechanisms.

While these theories offer plausible explanations, the study recognizes the need for additional research to solidify these links and provide a comprehensive understanding of how the flu vaccine exerts its positive influence on cardiovascular health.

Despite the potential life-saving benefits uncovered by the study, Israel has experienced a noticeable decline in flu vaccinations. Reports from various health insurance funds revealed a decline in vaccination rates, particularly among adults over 65—a demographic that suffered the highest flu-related deaths in the previous year.

The alarming decrease in vaccination rates raises concerns, especially considering the estimated impact of influenza on the population. The Ministry of Health anticipates that 8-15% of the population may be affected by influenza, leading to a significant number of hospitalizations and deaths.

Amidst the challenges of declining vaccination rates, the question arises: Is it too late to get vaccinated? According to experts from the CDC in the United States as well as WHO, it is advisable to receive the vaccine late, if you can’t get it immediately, but it is important to get it eventually. With the influenza season typically peaking around February, there is still substantial value in getting vaccinated during the current winter season.

The study introduces a compelling dimension to the conversation surrounding flu vaccinations, urging not only a reconsideration of their impact on heart health but also a renewed emphasis on the importance of maintaining vaccination rates for overall public health.

Sources:

Could getting a flu shot reduce your chances of having a heart attack? New study

Interim 2022/23 influenza vaccine effectiveness: six European studies, October 2022 to January 2023

Influenza vaccine and cardiac protection: a study from a tertiary care center

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