No joke, according to a new study published in the Journal “Heart” in September 2016 and quoted by the American College of Cardiology (ACC), it carries quite a bit of credibility. There is a growing number of observational clinical trials that link flu vaccination to protection from myocardial infarction. The quintessential believe behind this observation is the evolving paradigm, that inflammation is the true underlying pathology for development of plaque in the coronary arteries, leading blockages and eventually to a heart attacks.
There are many types of inflammation, some good some bad. Inflammation is a natural response of the body to attack infections caused either by bacteria or viruses, and to help with healing process. Inflammation occurs as a response injury or foreign body, like a splinter. But there are also bad inflammations, which could trigger a dangerous medical problem.
Flu appears to be most consistently linked to producing adverse vascular events. This could be occurring through increasing the demand of oxygen on the heart through release of stress hormones, increased heart rate, release of local substances in the vasculature which lead to irritation and disruption of an existing plaque as well as increasing clotting propensity of the blood. All of these event can lead to an abrupt closure of a coronary artery and result in an acute heart attack.
If flu vaccine works, it works by preventing these trigger factors of inflammation.
It is estimated that flu vaccine can be almost as effective as treating high blood pressure or using a statin drug for reduction of cholesterol. It is in the range of 15 to 45% based on various data.
Although flu vaccine is universally recommended, it is still highly underused particularly in view of this new information. Only approximately 30% of adults with increased risk for development of coronary artery disease in the age group 65 years or less are getting vaccinated.
Flu vaccine is safe and should be recommended to all adults particularly those at risk for coronary disease and heart attack. Those are patients with the metabolic syndrome, like diabetes, hypertension, obesity, inactivity, high cholesterol and smoking.
So get the flu shot this season.
KEY POINTS TO REMEMBER:
Getting a flu shot may reduce your risk of heart attack by as much as 15 to 45%, similar to treatment of cholesterol with a Statin medication, new study shows.