With winter approaching, it is important to get a vaccine to prevent influenza (“flu”). In addition to lowering the risk of severe flu itself, this vaccine may also help prevent heart attacks and other types of heart-related complications. Flu vaccination is especially important for people living with diabetes. We know that, for people with heart disease, getting the flu can trigger other health problems, especially if someone develops the flu shortly after a heart attack.Vaccination against the flu may also have beneficial anti-inflammatory effects in the body.
Flu vaccine is effective
Recently, researchers conducted a major new study comparing flu vaccine with a placebo which was given to people who had recently had a heart attack. There were 2,571 participants at 30 centers across eight countries. One in five participants had diabetes. Over the next 12 months, rates of heart attacks and death were significantly lower in the group who had received the flu vaccine.
Risk of heart attack reduced by 50%
This new study, together with other reports, suggest that for high-risk people, flu vaccine can reduce the risk of a heart attack in half. These findings suggest that flu vaccination should be considered as part of in-hospital treatment after a heart attack.