As part of a study to determine why individuals who get the flu shot have a 50 percent lower chance of having a heart attack up to one year later, researchers scrutinized 14 influenza vaccines. They found that the bradykinin 2 receptor (BKB2R) is essential to protecting the heart.
A molecular mechanism in BKB2R triggers the immune system to produce antibodies for specific cell processes, creating more molecules to guard the heart against disease.
"Even though the protective effect of the flu vaccine against heart disease has been known for some time, there is very little research out there looking at what causes it," Dr. Veljko Veljkovic, the study’s lead author from the Institute Vinca, Belgrade, said. "Our proposed mechanism could potentially be harnessed in a vaccine against heart disease, and we plan to investigate this further."
In addition to the BKB2R mechanism, the study also found other proteins that may be used for future heart disease vaccines.
"We hope that our results will encourage more people to get vaccinated before the flu season starts,” Veljkovic said.