A new vaccine for influenza may be able to decrease the chances of developing new-onset atrial fibrillation (AF), which is an irregular or rapid heartbeat that can be related to influenza.
Scientists in Taiwan conducted the study to determine when an influenza infection is considered a risk factor for the heart condition and to evaluate whether the influenza vaccine could decrease the chances of developing atrial fibrillation.
This heart condition is the most common kind of cardiac arrhythmia. Many clinics attribute most of their hemodynamic abnormalities, frequent hospitalizations and blood clots to atrial fibrillation. Experts have stated that there is a five-fold larger risk of having a stroke with atrial fibrillation.
"Although the precise mechanisms of AF are not well understood, accumulating evidence indicates that inflammation and the autonomic nervous system are involved in the development of AF," Drs. Tze-Fan Chao and Su-Jung Chen, the lead investigators from Taipei Veterans General Hospital, said.
The study, which involved 57,000 people, showed that people who had not received their influenza vaccines had an 18 percent higher chance of developing atrial fibrillation.
"According to the findings presented here, the possibility of AF should be kept in mind when patients with influenza infection complain of palpitations or experience ischemic stroke," the investigators said. "Influenza vaccinations should be encouraged for patients, especially those who have a high risk of atrial fibrillation, to try to prevent the occurrence of atrial fibrillation and subsequent stroke."