Haven’t Had a Flu Shot Yet? You Neet to Put Your Heart in It

flu shot may reduce risk of heart attack and strokeWe’ve talked about how important it is to get flu shots. Influenza kills thousands every year and many of those deaths could have been prevented with the vaccine. But if that isn’t enough to get you to roll up your sleeve and make a fist, consider this: Getting a flu shot may keep you from having a heart attack. Have I got your attention?

In fact, it could cut your risk of having a “cardiovascular event” (aka heart attack or stroke) by half. That was the rather surprising finding by Dr. Jacob Udell and his colleagues who just presented a paper at the 2012 Canadian Cardiovascular Conference. Here’s how it worked:

The researchers divided a group of 3,200 patients into two subgroups. About half of each group had no cardiovascular problems, the other half did. Then they gave flu shots to one group and placebo to the other.

A year later, the vaccinated group had 48% fewer deaths from heart attack or stroke than the unvaccinated group.

Of course there are plenty of skeptics and we need a lot more research before it’s safe to say that flu shots definitely cut cardiovascular-related deaths in half. But in an interview with HeartWire, Dr. Udell made an excellent point: “Even if the advantage were a 10% reduction, you still would have a major improvement in cardiovascular clinical prevention, as well as cost-effectiveness and burden on the healthcare system.”

Bottom line: Get a flu shot—unless your healthcare provider has told you not to.

For a simple and practical guide on your cardiovascular health that can be incorporated into your everyday life, check out ‘Heartbeat‘, published by Men’s Health Network.

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