Influenza shot may protect against flu and heart attack

The influenza shot may provide protection against life-threatening cardiovascular events, such as stroke and heart attack, Bel Marra Health, a Canadian nutritional supplement developer, said on Tuesday.

According to a study published in the October issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, the flu vaccine may protect against the influenza virus and lower the risk for cardiovascular events. Researchers from the University of Toronto collected five published randomized placebo-controlled trials and one unpublished trial investigating the influenza vaccine and cardiovascular events. The published studies evaluated 3,238 patients who received the vaccine and 3,231 patients who received a placebo or control treatment.

According to the published studies, 2.9 percent of patients receiving the influenza vaccine suffered from a major cardiovascular event during the one-year follow-up period. The studies found that 4.7 percent of patients who received the placebo or control treatment had a cardiovascular event during the one-year follow-up period.

The researchers also found that individuals with a history of stable coronary artery disease experienced a reduced risk of adverse cardiovascular events if they received the influenza vaccine versus a placebo treatment. Reduced risks were found to be more prominent for individuals with a recent history of acute coronary syndrome.

The researchers plan to conduct a clinical trial to determine the safety and effectiveness of the flu vaccine for stroke and heart attack prevention.